Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Rousseau's desperately famous opening line from Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique (1762) --'L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers' -- is, obviously, behind Schiller lines from 'Die Worte des Glaubens' (1797):
Der Mensch ist frei geschaffen, ist frei,
Und würd' er in Ketten geboren.
'Man is created free, and is free, Though he be born in chains.' It's certainly a more hopeful, probably a more mendacious claim; and part of me thinks that only somebody who enjoyed both affluence and freedom from birth could speak so breezily about what it means to be in chains.

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