The Washington Post
Inventing Human Rights: A Historyby Lynn Hunt
“A tour de force.”—Gordon S. Wood, New York Times Book ReviewHow were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the/p>/em>
“A tour de force.”—Gordon S. Wood, New York Times Book ReviewHow were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals and how human rights continue to be contested today.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Considering contemporary reading habits and conducting a close analysis of contemporary texts, Hunt (history, UCLA; Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution) argues that between the 1740s and 1780s Western attitudes changed dramatically: there emerged newfound feeling for others and an appreciation of others as self-directed entities. The reading public developed this sensibility largely as a consequence of the new epistolary novels of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Samuel Richardson, and others. Concurrently, there was a growing abhorrence of torture or public punishment. Thus was laid the foundation for a language stressing the possession of rights by all men, a concept incorporated in America's Declaration of Independence (1776) and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789). Though women were still excluded from political (but not civil) rights, the door was at last open to religious minorities, the Jews, and free blacks. Talk of rights waned with Napoleon; other political languages engaged Europe for the next century and a half. Rights surfaced again in 1948 with passage of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cultural history of a high order; recommended for academic and large public collections.
David Keymer Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Lynn Hunt is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, former president of the American Historical Association, and author of numerous works, including Inventing Human Rights and Telling the Truth about History. She lives in Los Angeles.
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