Rousseau's Aesthetics of Feeling

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This study breaks new ground by focusing on the role of the arts in Rousseau’s novel, Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse, and through them demonstrates the underlying consistency of his thought. Although he never elaborated a formal aesthetic doctrine, Rousseau’s ideas on the arts provide the foundation for the novel and can be discerned therein. Moving between his theoretical and literary writings, this study reveals how Rousseau achieved his aesthetic and ethical goals, examining his alternation between the roles of censor and champion of the arts. This book contains 12 black and white photographs.


“Going beyond Rousseau’s well-known critique of the arts, Karen Sullivan paints a portrait of Rousseau as an artist, art critic, and philosopher of art, while showing the coherence of his thought on issues of representation. The portrait is painted with passion: it speaks to the mind and to the heart.” - Dr. Pierre Force, Professor of French and History, Columbia University

“Dr. Sullivan’s book is an important contribution to the field as it underscores Rousseau’s cultivation of the act of engaging the reader. It clearly demonstrates how reading Rousseau is a reformative and creative project and how Rousseau moves through the imagination and memory of the reader. Dr. Sullivan’s main contribution to the field of Rousseau Studies is her presentation of the idea that the act of reading is an aesthetic experience. She explains that reading Rousseau is an art unto itself, and that the reader once engaged fully in this act can comprehend the lesson and experience that Rousseau offers.” - Dr. Barbara Abrams, Assistant Professor of French and Humanities, Suffolk University

Table of Contents

Preface by Pierre Force
1 The Roots of Rosseau’s Aesthetics
2 Music in Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse
3 The Visual Arts and the Dangers of Representation
4 Books in the Novel

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