Freedom, Slavery, & Absolutism
Corneille, Pascal, Racine
Ziad Elmarsafy explores the concept of freedom by reading the works of Corneille, Pascal, and Racine as political theories in the guise of literature. Within this framework, a certain model quickly becomes apparent, namely that of absolute sovereignty as the guarantor of freedom. The three writers under consideration share the view that freedom is ensured only by absolute authority rather than the absence of such authority. From Corneille, who modulates freedom through an erotic link to the monarch as a means through which the glorious individual is brought into the state's fold, to Pascal, who traces the liberation of the will via absolute submission to God, to Racine, for whom absolute submission to the most Christian king is the only route to political and personal salvation, Elmarsafy studies a politics of taking charge that differs markedly from the contemporary orthodoxy that privileges individual freedom. Historically engaged, incisively argued, and persuasively written, Freedom, Slavery, and Absolutism will appeal to literary scholars, to political theorists and to readers interested in the history of ideas.
About the author:
Ziad Elmarsafy is Associate Professor of French at New York University. He is the author of The Histrionic Sensibility: Theatricality and Identity from Corneille to Rousseau (2001) and the editor of Philosophies of Classical France/Philosophies au siecle classique en France (2001).