The Radical Novelty of Olympe de Gouges.
La Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen proclaims that 'men are born free and equal in rights'. However, the egalitarian principles expounded in the Déclaration were translated into a constitution that defined the subjects of these rights as French propertied males at least twenty-five years of age. Entered into circulation on September 14, 1791, Olympe de Gouges's Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne stakes claim to the rights guaranteed to the universal, abstract citizen designated in the Déclaration. Much scholarship has diminished or dismissed de Gouges's work on the basis of its supposed rhetorical deficiencies. This paper, through a historically situated reading that brings to light both the 'radical novelty' of de Gouges's Déclaration's rhetoric and the under-appreciated intertextuality with the work of Robespierre, argues that the significance of de Gouges's Déclaration is locatable within rather than in spite of its style.