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Lyricism and Happiness in the Autobiographical Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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posted on 2021-11-08, 19:42 authored by Hollard, Thoron Lincoln

One aspect of Rousseau's prose style, not only in La Nouvelle Heloise but also in the autobiographical writings, particularly the Confessions and the Reveries du promeneur solitaire, is his lyricism. While Rousseau's lyricism has always been generally recognized it has rarely been given detailed examination, especially in the case of the autobiographical works. In this thesis, therefore, a detailed study of lyrical passages in Rousseau's autobiographical writings is undertaken. This analysis is linked to the theme of happiness, which is usually related in some way to Rousseau's lyricism. The first chapter of Part One of this study considers, the nature of lyricism in relation to literary expression in poetry and in prose, and also briefly surveys lyrical prose before Rousseau. Then Rousseau's potential for lyrical expression, as so far defined, is studied. As Rousseau's lyricism is to be analysed within the framework of happiness, the role of happiness in his life and works is considered in Chapter III. Part Two, namely Chapters IV to VII inclusive, consists of an examination of lyrical passages connected with happiness in Rousseau's autobiographical Writings. The subdivisions of happiness in the different chapters into absence of happiness, wishful thinking, happiness in personal relationships and happiness associated with nature respectively, are to be regarded as no more than a convenient framework for stylistic analysis. The aim of the thesis is to discover, in the course of analysing these lyrical passages, in what manner and with what effect certain feelings and reflections are expressed; to show what characterizes his lyrical suppleness and what is responsible for his melodiousness; to discover what features of, style are, variously, characteristics, special, unexpected or even disappointing, whether at one time or more generally in Rousseau's lyrical expression.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Asian and European Languages and Cultures


Norrish, Peter