An analysis of Maistre's unpublished works that challenges the image of him as a reactionary extremist.
The conventional image of French polemicist and diplomat Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) is that of a theocrat and a proto-fascist. Cara Camcastle challenges this by considering his unpublished memoirs, memoranda, diplomatic correspondence, and letters. In an analysis of his ideas on political economy, international relations, and domestic politics, Camcastle reveals Maistre to have opposed absolutism and points to the views of an economic liberal and moderate conservative closer to Montesquieu, Smith, and Burke.
The More Moderate Side of Joseph de Maistre expertly contextualizes his work within the historical events and intellectual debates that emerged in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Camcastle sheds new light on Maistre's conception of government as being made up of groups in dynamic counterbalance and on the system of inconvertible paper money that he developed a century before a similar system was universally adopted in the twentieth century. Camcastle provides a more complete and balanced picture of Maistre's political writings through original interpretations of his published works and translations from French and Italian into English of previously unpublished writings that substantiate key points.