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Doubting the Lettered City: Simón Rodríguez, Antonio José de Irisarri, and the Literary Skepticism of Rousseau

Abstract

An analysis of how differing views of the imagined reader can shape the potential and pitfalls of text from two thinkers who agreed on the limits of "the lettered city" but differed on most other points.

Briggs, Ronald. “Doubting the Lettered City: Simón Rodríguez, Antonio José de Irisarri, and the Literary Skepticism of Rousseau.” The Routledge Companion to the Hispanic Enlightenment, edited by Elizabeth Franklin Lewis, Mónica Bolufer Peruga, and Catherine M. Jaffe, Routledge, 2019, pp. 83-96.

Simón Rodríguez and Antonio José de Irisarri shared a skepticism traceable to Rousseau on the use of literacy as a measure for public virtue. While sharing an emphasis on character traits that could not be learned from books, they developed opposite impressions of the nineteenth-century public. This essay sketches each writer’s working image of the reader and demonstrates how different visions about the human potential of the reader can shaped the meaning of writing and publishing in the decades after the Wars of Independence.

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