Delving into Rousseau’s writing process for La Nouvelle Héloïse. What manuscripts tell us about writing and reading texts

The guest lecture is part of the Lecture Series «Reading, Mind and Body». Open for all.

Nathalie Ferrand

About the lecture

Delving into Rousseau’s manuscripts is a long-distance journey. The researcher needs time to browse through and explore a continent of more than seven thousand manuscript pages that remain in many ways poorly known, which is perhaps the biggest surprise. A disorientating journey, so unusual is the type of textuality to which the reader is confronted. With a letter of La Nouvelle Héloïse (IV, 3), about the St. Preux’s trip around the world, we will present a genetic reading – including the known successive versions – and interpretative of several pages of the novel of which five manuscript versions are available to us. Does this see-through observation of the text allow us to discover meanings that we had overlooked? We will try to show how very worthwhile this genetic approach is in terms of interpretation, knowledge and comprehension of a work supposedly so well-known.


About the guest lecturer

Nathalie Ferrand is a Research Professor at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. In 2011, she joined the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes at the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, where she directs the programme ‘18th Century Literary Manuscripts’.

She is a former fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung and of the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. She is a member of the Fund committee of the Voltaire Foundation, Oxford and a member of the Advisory Board of French Studies.


Karin Kukkonen
Published Jan. 20, 2016 5:26 PM - Last modified Jan. 26, 2016 11:42 AM