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Germaine de StaëlA Political Portrait$
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Biancamaria Fontana

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691169040

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691169040.001.0001

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The Republic in Theory and Practice (1797–99)

The Republic in Theory and Practice (1797–99)

(p.158) Chapter 7 The Republic in Theory and Practice (1797–99)
Germaine de Staël

Biancamaria Fontana

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how Staël combined a series of observations on the immediate situation of France with more theoretical considerations, in this case a reformulation of the theory of representative government. This tendency to combine a theoretical perspective with pressing practical considerations is typical of Staël's writings about politics: it is precisely the fluctuation between these two registers that gives her prose its distinctively breathless, uneven pace, alternating passages of terse analysis with urgent perorations. For Staël, the most difficult problem created by the Revolution was how to bridge the gap between a set of abstract notions and their application, between the demand for individual rights and popular sovereignty, and the means by which this demand might be converted into viable political institutions.

Keywords:   Germaine de Staël, representative government, theoretical perspective, practical considerations, French Revolution, individual rights, popular sovereignty

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