Constant's reputation rests on his characterization of the freedom of the moderns, a much-used formulation which we owe to him. This article claims, first, that Constant can equally be identified with what is here described as the literature of the moderns, and, second, that literature so conceived is historically and culturally important in grasping the significance of freedom seen as a central component of modernity, including the potential negativity of the negative freedom long associated with Constant. What the case of Constant shows is that the impact of the freedom of the moderns comes to be articulated as much in a literary as in a political framework. The article explores the extent to which Constant can be seen as a reference point in a rupture which is literary as much as political, and proposes accordingly a revised reading of his novel Adolphe. The substance of the literature of the moderns is decisively shaped by this dual shift, just as its poetics illustrates why the autonomy of literature is culturally significant when it comes to evaluating modern individualism.