In this discerning study of sentimental discourse of the late eighteenth century, David J. Denby sheds new light on Enlightenment thought and sensibility. He reveals how sentimental sub-literature reflects the social attitudes of the emerging bourgeoisie, and how its formal structures are reflected in contemporary theories concerning the nature of society, morality, and politics. Denby explores how the language and forms of sentimental narratives were adopted and exploited by political and social writers, and how sentimentalism provided a theme of continuity underlying the dominant sense of change brought about by the Revolution. In this interdisciplinary book Denby argues that sentimentalism is central to the culture of late eighteenth-century France. Texts discussed include works by Rousseau and de Stael.