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Genius in FranceAn Idea and Its Uses$
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Ann Jefferson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691160658

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691160658.001.0001

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The Eighteenth Century

The Eighteenth Century

Mimesis and Effect

(p.19) Chapter 1 The Eighteenth Century
Genius in France

Ann Jefferson

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the characteristics of genius as set forth during the eighteenth century, when the modern idea of genius first took root and when the secular values of the Enlightenment took hold of the notion in order to celebrate human achievement, advance intellectual and artistic innovation, and support the emergence of new disciplines and genres. The century is characterized above all by a huge appetite for knowledge, and it is in this context that genius began to take its modern form. It became the object of new enquiry, but was also regarded as its privileged source. The chapter takes a look at certain defining characteristics of genius in this century and expounds on them.

Keywords:   eighteenth century, Enlightenment period, genius, human achievement, intellectual innovation, knowledge, mimesis, artistic innovation

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