Benjamin Constant

Benjamin Constant (Henri Benjamin Constant de Rebecque) (äNrē´ bäNzhämăN´ kôNstäN´ də rəbĕk´), 1767–1830, French-Swiss political writer and novelist, b. Lausanne. His affair (1794–1811) with Germaine de Staël turned him to political interests. He accompanied her to Paris in 1795 and served (1799–1801) as a tribune under the first consul, Napoleon. When Mme de Stäel was expelled (1802), however, he went into exile with her, spending the following 12 years in Switzerland and Germany. In 1813 he published a pamphlet attacking Napoleon and urging constitutional government and civil liberties. On Napoleon's return from Elba, however, Constant accepted office under him. After Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo and the restoration of the Bourbons, Constant continued his political pamphleteering, calling for a constitutional monarchy. He served (1819–22, 1824–30) in the chamber of deputies. Constant gained a great reputation as a liberal publicist, and his funeral (shortly after the July Revolution, 1830, which he had supported) was the occasion for great demonstrations. His most important work, the introspective and semiautobiographical novel, Adolphe (1816, tr. 1959), is highly regarded for its style. Parts of his correspondence and journals have been published, the latter as Le Journal intime (1887–89) and Le Cahier rouge [the red notebook] (1907). The discovery of an unfinished novel, Cécile (1951; tr. 1953), has contributed to a new appreciation of Constant's literary merit.

See R. Weingarten, Germaine de Staël and Benjamin Constant: A Dual Biography (2008); studies by H. Nicolson (1949), W. W. Holdheim (1961), and D. Wood (1987).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Benjamin Constant: A Biography
Dennis Wood.
Routledge, 1993
Benjamin Constant's Philosophy of Liberalism: A Study in Politics and Religion
Guy Howard Dodge.
University of North Carolina Press, 1980
French Royalist Doctrines since the Revolution
Charlotte Touzalin Muret.
Columbia University Press, 1933
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Liberals: Benjamin Constant"
Revolution in the Theatre: French Romantic Theories of Drama
Barry V. Daniels.
Greenwood Press, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Benjamin Constant"
Forged in Crisis: Queer Beginnings of Modern Masculinity in a Canonical French Novel
Creech, James.
Studies in the Novel, Vol. 28, No. 3, Fall 1996
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Early Works of Orestes A. Brownson: The Free Thought and Unitarian Years, 1830-35
Patrick W. Carey; Orestes A. Brownson.
Marquette University Press, vol.2, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 36 "Benjamin Constant on Religion"
The Novel in France: Mme de la Fayette, Laclos, Constant, Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert, Proust
Martin Turnell.
New Directions, 1951
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