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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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Genius Obscured

Genius Obscured


(p.35) Chapter 2 Genius Obscured
Genius in France

Ann Jefferson

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers how a link was established between genius and genius in a manner that sidelines the public. It explores arguments which claims that the public—now deemed “vulgar”—lacks the requisite sensibility to respond to genius, and is bracketed out of a relation that now goes exclusively from genius to genius. Genius remains self-evident, but only to the man who is already endowed with it: he alone is equipped to recognize it, whether in himself or another. As the burden of recognition is shifted from reader-spectator to genius itself, the continuity between reader-spectator and genius is broken, and the self-evidence of genius begins to wane.

Keywords:   Denis Diderot, reader-spectator, public recognition, self-evidence, genius

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