Paul Bénichou ; translated by Mark K. Jensen
"The Consecration of the Writer" is the definitive study of the first stages of a phenomenon that has profoundly affected world literature: the process by which modern writers ceased to speak as representatives of some religious or political power and instead seized the mantle of spiritual authority in their own right, speaking directly to and in the name of humanity. Paul Benichou identifies three great moments in this process: the advent of the Enlightenment faith in philosophy and the rise of its literary concomitant, the man of letters; the literary creations of the counterrevolution and their surprising involvement in the elevation of the status of poetry; and, finally, the fusion of these tendencies in the early phases of romanticism in France. Benichou deepens our understanding of romanticism by showing that it was a revision of the Enlightenment faith rather than a reaction against it. The extraordinary depth of Benichou's research, the originality of his conclusions, and the importance of his methodological reflections make this study an essential reference in the contemporary return to literary history. Paul Benichou is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure.
He taught at Harvard from 1959 to 1979 and is the author of the classic "Morales du grand siecle". Mark K. Jensen is an associate professor of French at Pacific Lutheran University and has written numerous essays on nineteenth-century French literature and the work of Benichou.