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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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Individual versus Collective Genius

Individual versus Collective Genius

(p.61) Chapter 4 Individual versus Collective Genius
Genius in France

Ann Jefferson

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses some views on individual and collective genius. Chateaubriand and Mme de Staël each construct a view of collective genius that relates to individual genius in relatively complex ways. But as time goes on, and especially when it takes the form of encomium rather than analysis, such relations are apt to lose all complexity: the individual is either a microcosmic replica of the national macrocosm, or else finds himself at odds with a national or social whole that rejects the creative contributions he seeks to offer to its glory and for which he is denied recognition. This chapter first considers the concept of the “genius of mankind” where human genius is a reflection and a revelation of the divine, before turning to the figure of “le poète malheureux” (“the unhappy poet”).

Keywords:   individual genius, collective genius, recognition, misrecognition, mankind

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