“ROMANCES ARE NECESSARY TO A CORRUPT PEOPLE”: ROUSSEAU’S ELOISA, 1795
ROUSSEAU, Jean Jacques. Eloisa: Or, A Series of Original Letters. London: C. Bathurst et al., 1795. Three volumes. 12mo, 19th-century three-quarter tan calf, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, red and tan morocco spine labels. $750.
Early edition in English, handsomely bound by Cross.
Rousseau writes in his preface: “Great cities require publick theatres, and romances are necessary to a corrupt people. I saw the manners of the times, and have published these letters.” Eloisa’s “portrayal of conjugal fidelity may be said to have effected something of a moral revolution in the empty, dissipated society of the day” (Reid, 445). First published in English in 1761.