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On Divorce (Library of Conservative Thought) Hardcover – January 1, 1991
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“With On Divorce, Nicholas Davidson has given us the first complete English translation to be published of any work by Louis de Bonald (1754-1840), who stands with Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre as one of the greatest theorists of the conservative reaction in Europe to the French Revolution. Mr. Davidson’s translation is both careful and readable. His scholarly editing, his own introduction, and the foreword by Robert Nisbet are all valuable in completing the text itself.”
—Vincent E. Starzinger, The University Bookman
“The book forcefully addresses one of the most vexing social questions in our political life, and it does so while providing a unique perspective on the “communitarian” critique of liberalism.”
—Mark C. Henrie, First Things
“Written during the 1790s, when its author was in hiding from the revolutionary authorities and published in 1801, this seminal work by one of the principal founders of conservatism has never before been translated into English . . . Bonald provides us with a rational and reactionary analysis . . . Divorce destroys domestic society in the same way t hat anarchic democracy destroys public society, turning marriage into a kind of at-will contract between untrammeled individuals. Not only does divorce separate parents from children; more importantly, it breaks the chain of the transmission and perpetuation of culture. Bonald is undoubtedly too extreme for most readers . . . Bonald’s account of the loss of natural authority in divine revelation, in community, and, most of all, in fathers, provides one of the most cogent explanations I have heard for the accelerating disorder—the loss of will to enforce or obey any common standards of behavior—that distinguishes our own era from most times past.”
—Lawrence Auster, National Review
“In 1792, at the height of the Revolution, the French made divorce legal on the grounds of incompatibility or mutual consent. Napoleon stiffened the conditions to adultery, cruelty, or grave injury, effectively eliminating divorce in the provinces and limiting successful applicants in Paris to about 50 per year. With the Restoration, however, conservatives gathered new strength and, after his dramatic, pivotal speech in the Chamber of Deputies, the aristocrat Louis-Gabriel-Ambroise de Bonald (1754-1840) was commissioned to write a government’s report opposing divorce unconditionally . . . In 1816, divorce was abolished altogether, to be reinstated—in a form more restrictive than the Napoleonic legislation—only under the Third Republic in 1884.”
—Robert Alun Jones, American Journal of Sociology
“Bonald wrote On Divorce (1801) to oppose the inclusion of divorce, first enacted in 1792, in the Napoleonic Code. Although the book failed in its aim, Bonald, in 1816, succeeded in having divorce abolished. And it was not until 1884 that it was re-enacted . . . On Divorce is a good introduction to Bonald’s social theory, which , in broad outline, is triadic—God, state, family—and triadic within each of these categories… Divorce is a violation of the domestic law of society because it disrupts the family triad—father, mother, child—undermining the power of the father and the natural superiority of the husband over the wife. Its harmful effects resonate throughout the other two societies, the public and the religious… [A]s translator and editor, Davidson has done a splendid job and deserves our gratitude for producing the first English translation of a work by Bonald.”
—Martin J. Bergin, Jr., Catholic Historical Review
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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