Jean Starobinski is Professor Emeritus of French literature at the University of Geneva. Blessings in Disguise and Largesse are among his works in English. A translation of his recent Action et réaction is to appear later this year. (May 2003)

A Letter from Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The remarkable text by Rousseau that appears below has been published before. But it is a forgotten text, here translated for the first time into English. It first appeared in Georges Streckeisen-Moultou’s 1861 collection Oeuvres et correspondance inédites de J.-J. Rousseau, based on a copy made by Reverend Paul Moultou.[^1] …

Rousseau and Revolution

After taking power by his coup d’état of 19 Brumaire (November 9, 1799), General Napoleon Bonaparte made no attempt to soften his sarcasm about the “principles of liberty” that had been promulgated by the Revolution. According to the memoirs of Madame de Staël: One bizarre thing was his way of …

Rousseau in the Revolution

Rousseau was the great critic of his own society and he made his case against it brilliantly and provocatively. In place of the evil that he denounced he put forward his vision of a just society and a happier world with an eloquence admired even by his opponents. He conquered …

Burying the Dead

Mankind is a peculiar species in that the essential moments in our biological development are all given meaning and form by culture. Being born, growing up, eating, coming of age, pairing off, growing old, being sick, and dying—all are events or successive stages in natural life that have to be …

Gazing at Death

The Birth of the Clinic is a description of the changes in the language of medicine, particularly French medicine, between 1794 and 1820. It is therefore in the first place a work of history, concerned with a specific problem during a specific period. But it is also an experiment in …

The Dominant Doctor

Galen of Pergamum elaborated his medical philosophy during the second half of the second century AD, and was the dominant influence on medical thinking until the eighteenth. He was at the same time an experimental scientist, a medical practitioner, and a commentator. Before being doctor to the emperors in Rome, …

Rousseau & Modern Tyranny

There is not much left in Rousseau to respect or admire when Professor Lester G. Crocker has finished with his life and works. Professor Crocker’s analysis, resting on solid documentary research, does not aim primarily to map out the story of a life; this has been done often enough and …

The Man Who Told Secrets

The eighteenth century is remote enough to be another world, yet near enough for us to recognize here in their infancy our modern values, our political doctrines, and our intellectual disciplines. Exploring the eighteenth century is an indirect but useful way of examining ourselves. In completing his biography of Diderot, …