An elegant translation of one of the most popular vels of its time. Rousseau's great epistolary vel, Julie, or the New Heloise, has been virtually unavailable in English since 1810. In it, Rousseau reconceptualized the relationship of the individual to the collective and articulated a new moral paradigm. The story follows the fates and smoldering passions of Julie d'Etange and St. Preux, a one-time lover who re-enters Julie's life at the invitation of her unsuspecting husband, M. de Wolmar. The complex tones of this work made it a commercial success and a continental sensation when it first appeared in 1761, and its embodiment of Rousseau's system of thought, in which feelings and intellect are intertwined, redefined the function and form of fiction for decades. As the characters negotiate a complex maze of passion and virtue, their purity of soul and honest morality reveal, as Rousseau writes in his preface, the subtleties of heart of which this work is full. A comprehensive introduction and careful antations make this vel accessible to contemporary readers, both as an embodiment of Rousseau's philosophy and as a portrayal of the tension and power inherent in domestic life.
Philip Stewart is professor of French and Literature and Director, Center for European Studies, Duke University. His books include Engraven Desires: Eros, Image, and Text in the French 18th Century (1992). Jean Vache is Associate Professor of English, Paul Valery University, Montpellier, France.