This book is both an analysis of the Bastille as cultural paradigm and a case study on the history of French political culture. It examines in particular the storming and subsequent fall of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789 and how it came to represent the cornerstone of the French Revolution, becoming a symbol of the repression of the Old Regime. Lüsebrink and Reichardt use this semiotic reading of the Bastille to reveal how historical symbols are generated; what these symbols’ functions are in the collective memory of societies; and how they are used by social, political, and ideological groups. To facilitate the symbolic nature of the investigation, this analysis of the evolving signification of the Bastille moves from the French Revolution to the nineteenth century to contemporary history. The narrative also shifts from France to other cultural arenas, like the modern European colonial sphere, where the overthrow of the Bastille acquired radical new signification in the decolonization period of the 1940s and 1950s. The Bastille demonstrates the potency of the interdisciplinary historical research that has characterized the end of this century, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, and taking its methodological tools from history, sociology, linguistics, and cultural and literary studies.
Chamfort: A Biography
Claude Arnaud University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress PQ1963.C4A8913 1992 | Dewey Decimal 848.509
Sébastien Roch Nicolas Chamfort (1740-1794), whom Nietzsche called the "wittiest of all moralists," is now known for little more than brillian aphorisms that captivated a long line of thinkers, from Stendhal to Cioran, Schopenhauer to Camus. Yet the fascination of Chamfort's life is barely suggested by the fragments of writing that have survived him. In Claude Arnaud's captivating biography, Chamfort the libertine, playwright, journalist, and revolutionary stands revealed as the most telling emblem of his times.
How did the French Revolution’s ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity descend into violence and terror? Timothy Tackett offers a new interpretation of this turning point in world history. Penetrating the mentality of Revolutionary elites on the eve of the Terror, he reveals how suspicion and mistrust escalated and helped propel their actions.
Reknowned historian Roger Chartier, one of the most brilliant and productive of the younger generation of French writers and scholars now at work refashioning the Annales tradition, attempts in this book to analyze the causes of the French revolution not simply by investigating its “cultural origins” but by pinpointing the conditions that “made is possible because conceivable.” Chartier has set himself two important tasks. First, while acknowledging the seminal contribution of Daniel Mornet’s Les origens intellectuelles de la Révolution française (1935), he synthesizes the half-century of scholarship that has created a sociology of culture for Revolutionary France, from education reform through widely circulated printed literature to popular expectations of government and society. Chartier goes beyond Mornet’s work, not be revising that classic text but by raising questions that would not have occurred to its author. Chartier’s second contribution is to reexamine the conventional wisdom that there is a necessary link between the profound cultural transformation of the eighteenth century (generally characterized as the Enlightenment) and the abrupt Revolutionary rupture of 1789. The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution is a major work by one of the leading scholars in the field and is likely to set the intellectual agenda for future work on the subject.
From the color of a politician’s tie, to exorbitantly costly haircuts, to the size of an American flag pin adorning a lapel, it’s no secret that style has political meaning. And there was no time in history when the politics of fashion was more fraught than during the French Revolution. In the 1790s almost any article of clothing could be scrutinized for evidence of one’s political affiliation. A waistcoat with seventeen buttons, for example, could be a sign of counterrevolution—a reference to Louis XVII—and earn its wearer a trip to the guillotine.
In Dandyism in the Age of Revolution, Elizabeth Amann shows that in France, England, and Spain, daring dress became a way of taking a stance toward the social and political upheaval of the period. France is the centerpiece of the story, not just because of the significance of the Revolution but also because of the speed with which its politics and fashions shifted. Dandyism in France represented an attempt to recover a political center after the extremism of the Terror, while in England and Spain it offered a way to reflect upon the turmoil across the Channel and Pyrenees. From the Hair Powder Act, which required users of the product to purchase a permit, to the political implications of the feather in Yankee Doodle’s hat, Amann aims to revise our understanding of the origins of modern dandyism and to recover the political context from which it emerged.
Although we know him as one of the greatest English poets, William Wordsworth might not have become a poet at all without the experience of personal and historical catastrophe in his youth. In Disowned by Memory, David Bromwich connects the accidents of Wordsworth's life with the originality of his writing, showing how the poet's strong sympathy with the political idealism of the age and with the lives of the outcast and the dispossessed formed the deepest motive of his writings of the 1790s.
"This very Wordsworthian combination of apparently low subjects with extraordinary 'high argument' makes for very rewarding, though often challenging reading."—Kenneth R. Johnston, Washington Times
"Wordsworth emerges from this short and finely written book as even stranger than we had thought, and even more urgently our contemporary."—Grevel Lindop, Times Literary Supplement
"[Bromwich's] critical interpretations of the poetry itself offer readers unusual insights into Wordworth's life and work."—Library Journal
"An added benefit of this book is that it restores our faith that criticism can actually speak to our needs. Bromwich is a rigorous critic, but he is a general one whose insights are broadly applicable. It's an intellectual pleasure to rise to his complexities."—Vijay Seshadri, New York Times Book Review
What was the French Revolution? Was it the triumph of Enlightenment humanist principles, or a violent reign of terror? Did it empower the common man, or just the bourgeoisie? And was it a turning point in world history, or a mere anomaly?
E.J. Hobsbawm’s classic historiographic study—written at the very moment when a new set of revolutions swept through the Eastern Bloc and brought down the Iron Curtain—explores how the French Revolution was perceived over the following two centuries. He traces how the French Revolution became integral to nineteenth-century political discourse, when everyone from bourgeois liberals to radical socialists cited these historical events, even as they disagreed on what their meaning. And he considers why references to the French Revolution continued to inflame passions into the twentieth century, as a rhetorical touchstone for communist revolutionaries and as a boogeyman for social conservatives.
Echoes of the Marseillaise is a stimulating examination of how the same events have been reimagined by different generations and factions to serve various political agendas. It will give readers a new appreciation for how the French Revolution not only made history, but also shaped our fundamental notions about history itself.
"The French Revolution," writes Hobsbawm, "gave peoples the sense that history could be changed by their action ... [and] demonstrated the power of the common people in a manner which no subsequent government has ever allowed itself to forget."
We can learn a great deal from studying the French Revolution itself, but we can also learn from studying the ways in which scholars have interpreted the French Revolution, and from the ways their views have changed. For over a century following the Revolution, commentators and scholars spoke of it in glowing terms. But in the past three decades, revisionist historians have become skeptical. Eric Hobsbawm reiterates the centrality of the Revolution for history on a global basis. He argues that those who wrote about the Revolution in the nineteenth century were convinced it had changed their lives dramatically, improving the economy and the lot of peasants. They saw the Revolution as a prototype of of the bourgeois revolution, enabling the middle class to gain power from the ruling class of aristocrats. Many believed proletarian revolutions would inevitably follow. In the years between 1917 and the 1960s, Marxists continued to use the French Revolution as a point of reference, paying increasing attention to the social and economic factors in the Revolution, not only to the political factors. In the 1970s and 1980s, many historians began to argue that the Revolution achieved modest results at disproportionate costs. Hobsbawm argues that this massive historiographical reaction against the centrality of the Revolution reflects the personal politics of those contemporary historians for whom Marxism and communism are now out of favor. They are, he maintains, wrong. The Revolution transformed the world permanently and introduced forces that continue to transform it.
Engineering the Revolution documents the forging of a new relationship between technology and politics in Revolutionary France, and the inauguration of a distinctively modern form of the “technological life.” Here, Ken Alder rewrites the history of the eighteenth century as the total history of one particular artifact—the gun—by offering a novel and historical account of how material artifacts emerge as the outcome of political struggle. By expanding the “political” to include conflict over material objects, this volume rethinks the nature of engineering rationality, the origins of mass production, the rise of meritocracy, and our interpretation of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
The French Revolution brings to mind violent mobs, the guillotine, and Madame Defarge, but it was also a publishing revolution: more than 1,200 novels were published between 1789 and 1804, when Napoleon declared the Revolution at an end. In this book, Julia V. Douthwaite explores how the works within this enormous corpus announced the new shapes of literature to come and reveals that vestiges of these stories can be found in novels by the likes of Mary Shelley, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, and L. Frank Baum.
Deploying political history, archival research, and textual analysis with eye-opening results, Douthwaite focuses on five major events between 1789 and 1794—first in newspapers, then in fiction—and shows how the symbolic stories generated by Louis XVI, Robespierre, the market women who stormed Versailles, and others were transformed into new tales with ongoing appeal. She uncovers a 1790 story of an automaton-builder named Frankénsteïn, links Baum to the suffrage campaign going back to 1789, and discovers a royalist anthem’s power to undo Balzac’s Père Goriot. Bringing to light the missing links between the ancien régime and modernity, The Frankenstein of 1790 and Other Lost Chapters from Revolutionary France is an ambitious account of a remarkable politico-literary moment and its aftermath.
In 1790, Pierre-Charles de Lassus de Luzières gathered his wife and children and fled Revolutionary France. His trek to America was prompted by his “purchase” of two thousand acres situated on the bank of the Ohio River from the Scioto Land Company—the institution that infamously swindled French buyers and sold them worthless titles to property. When de Luzières arrived and realized he had been defrauded, he chose, in a momentous decision, not to return home to France. Instead, he committed to a life in North America and began planning a move to the Mississippi River valley.
De Luzières dreamed of creating a vast commercial empire that would stretch across the frontier, extending the entire length of the Ohio River and also down the Mississippi from Ste. Genevieve to New Orleans. Though his grandiose goal was never realized, de Luzières energetically pursued other important initiatives. He founded the city of New Bourbon in what is now Missouri and recruited American settlers to move westward across the Mississippi River. The highlight of his career was being appointed Spanish commandant of the New Bourbon District, and his 1797 census of that community is an invaluable historical document. De Luzières was a significant political player during the final years of the Spanish regime in Louisiana, but likely his greatest contributions to American history are his extensive commentaries on the Mississippi frontier at the close of the colonial era.
A French Aristocrat in the American West: The Shattered Dreams of De Lassus de Luzières is both a narrative of this remarkable man’s life and a compilation of his extensive writings. In Part I of the book, author Carl Ekberg offers a thorough account of de Luzières, from his life in Pre-Revolutionary France to his death in 1806 in his house in New Bourbon. Part II is a compilation, in translation, of de Luzières’s most compelling correspondence. Until now very little of his writing has been published, despite the fact that his letters constitute one of the largest bodies of writing ever produced by a French émigré in North America.
Though de Luzières’s presence in early American history has been largely overlooked by scholars, the work left behind by this unlikely frontiersman merits closer inspection. A French Aristocrat in the American West brings the words and deeds of this fascinating man to the public for the first time.
The writings of Pope Pius VI, head of the Catholic Church during the most destructive period of the French Revolution, were compiled in two volumes by M.N.S. Guillon and published in 1798 and 1800. But during the Revolution, the reign of Napoleon, and the various revolutionary movements of the 19th century, there were extraordinary efforts to destroy writings that critiqued the revolutionary ideology. Many books and treatises, if they survived the revolution or the sacking from Napoleon’s armies. To this day, no public copy of Guillon’s work exists in Paris.
Now, for the first time in English, these works comprising the letters, briefs, and other writings of Pius VI on the French Revolution are available. Volume I treats the first shock of the Revolution and the efforts of the Pope in 1790 and 1791 to oppose the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (which famous revolutionary and shrewd diplomat Talleyrand referred to as “the greatest fault of the National Assembly”). Volume II will be published later, and deals with the aftermath of the Civil Constitution through Pius’s death in exile). Editor and translator Jeffrey Langan presents the materials leading up to and directly connected with these decrees, in which the National Assembly attempted to set up a Catholic Church that would be completely submissive to the demands of the Assembly. Volume I also covers Pius’s efforts to deal with the immediate aftermath of the Constitution after the National Assembly implemented it, including his encyclical, Quod Aliquantum.
The letters will show how Pius chose to oppose the Civil Constitution. He did so not by a public campaign, for he had no real temporal power to oppose the violence, but by attempting to work personally with Louis XVI and various archbishops in France to articulate what were the points on which he could concede (matters dealing with the political structures of France) and what were the essential points in which he could not concede (matters dealing with the organization of dioceses and appointment of bishops).
Since the 1980s, with the writings and school that developed around François Furet, as well as Simon Schama’s Citizens, a new debate over the French Revolution has ensued, bringing forth a more objective account of the Revolution, one that avoids an excessively Marxist lens and that brings to light some of its defects and more gruesome parts – the destruction and theft of Church property, and the sadistic methods of torture and killing of priests, nuns, aristocrats, and fellow-revolutionaries.
An examination of the writings of Pius VI will not only help set the historical record straight for English-speaking students of the Revolution, it will also aid them to better understand the principles that the Catholic Church employs when confronted with chaotic political change. They will see that the Church has a principled approach to distinguishing, while not separating, the power of the Church and the power of the state. They will also see, as Talleyrand himself also saw, that one of the essential elements that makes the Church the Church is the right to appoint bishops and to discipline its own bishops. The Church herself recognizes that she cannot long survive without this principle that guarantees her unity.
Pius VI’s efforts were able to keep the Catholic Church intact (though badly bruised) so that she could reconstitute herself and build up a vibrant life in 19th-century France. (He did this in the face of the Church’s prestige having sunk to historic lows; some elites in Europe thought there would be no successor to Pius and jokingly referred to him as “Pius the Last.”) He began a process that led to the restoration of the prestige of the Papacy throughout the world, and he initiated a two-century process that led to the Church finally being able to select bishops without any interference from secular authorities. This had been at least a 1,000-year problem in the history of the Church. By 1990, only two countries of the world, China and Vietnam, were interfering in any significant way in the process that the Church used to select bishops.
Pius VI’s papacy, especially during the years of the French Revolution, was a pivotal point for the French Revolution and for the interaction between Church and state in Western history. All freedom-loving people will be happy to read his distinc-tions between the secular power and the spiritual power. His papacy also was important for the internal developments that the Church would make over the next 200 years with respect to its self-understanding of the Papacy and the role of the bishop.
Jean-Paul Marat’s role in the French Revolution has long been a matter of controversy among historians. Often he has been portrayed as a violent, sociopathic demagogue. This biography challenges that interpretation and argues that without Marat’s contributions as an agitator, tactician, and strategist, the pivotal social transformation that the Revolution accomplished might well not have occurred.
Clifford D. Conner argues that what was unique about Marat - which set him apart from all other major figures of the Revolution, including Danton and Robespierre - was his total identification with the struggle of the propertyless classes for social equality.
This is an essential book for anyone interested in the history of the revolutionary period and the personalities that led it.
As controversial and explosive as it is elegant and learned, The Long Affair is Conor Cruise O'Brien's examination of Thomas Jefferson, as man and icon, through the critical lens of the French Revolution. O'Brien offers a provocative analysis of the supreme symbol of American history and political culture and challenges the traditional perceptions of both Jeffersonian history and the Jeffersonian legacy.
"The book is an attack on America's long affair with Jeffersonian ideology of radical individualism: an ideology that, by confusing Jefferson with a secular prophet, will destroy the United States from within."—David C. Ward, Boston Book Review
"With his background as a politician and a diplomat, O'Brien brings a broad perspective to his effort to define Jefferson's beliefs through the prism of his attitudes toward France. . . . This is an important work that makes an essential contribution to the overall picture of Jefferson."—Booklist
"O'Brien traces the roots of Jefferson's admiration for the revolution in France but notes that Jefferson's enthusiasm for France cooled in the 1790s, when French egalitarian ideals came to threaten the slave-based Southern economy that Jefferson supported."—Library Journal
"In O'Brien's opinion, it's time that Americans face the fact that Jefferson, long seen as a champion of the 'wronged masses,' was a racist who should not be placed on a pedestal in an increasingly multicultural United States."—Boston Phoenix
"O'Brien makes a well-argued revisionist contribution to the literature on Jefferson."—Kirkus Reviews
"O'Brien is right on target . . . determined not to let the evasions and cover-ups continue."—Forrest McDonald, National Review
"The Long Affair should be read by anyone interested in Jefferson—or in a good fight."—Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review
Throughout his life Karl Marx commented on the French Revolution, but never was able to realize his project of a systematic work on this immense event. This book assembles for the first time all that Marx wrote on this subject. François Furet provides an extended discussion of Marx's thinking on the revolution, and Lucien Calvié situates each of the selections, drawn from existing translations as well as previously untranslated material, in its larger historical context.
With his early critique of Hegel, Marx started moving toward his fundamental thesis: that the state is a product of civil society and that the French Revolution was the triumph of bourgeois society. Furet's interpretation follows the evolution of this idea and examines the dilemmas it created for Marx as he considered all the faces the new state assumed over the course of the Revolution: the Jacobin Terror following the constitutional monarchy, Bonaparte's dictatorship following the parliamentary republic.
The problem of reconciling his theory with the reality of the Revolution's various manifestations is one of the major difficulties Marx contended with throughout his work. The hesitation, the remorse, and the contradictions of the resulting analyses offer a glimpse of a great thinker struggling with the constraints of his own system. Marx never did elaborate a theory of an autonomous state, but he never stopped wrestling with the challenge to his doctrine posed by late eighteenth-century France, whose changing conditions and successive regimes prompted some of his most intriguing and, until now, unexplored thought.
The Old Regime and the Revolution is Alexis de Tocqueville's great meditation on the origins and meanings of the French Revolution. One of the most profound and influential studies of this pivotal event, it remains a relevant and stimulating discussion of the problem of preserving individual and political freedom in the modern world. Alan Kahan's translation provides a faithful, readable rendering of Tocqueville's last masterpiece, and includes notes and variants which reveal Tocqueville's sources and include excerpts from his drafts and revisions. The introduction by France's most eminent scholars of Tocqueville and the French Revolution, Françoise Mélonio and the late François Furet, provides a brilliant analysis of the work.
With his monumental work The Old Regime and the Revolution, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)-best known for his classic Democracy in America— envisioned a multivolume philosophic study of the origins of modern France that would examine the implications of French history on the nature and development of democratic society. Volume 1, which covered the eighteenth-century background to the Revolution, was published to great acclaim in 1856. On the continuation of this project, he wrote: "When this Revolution has finished its work, [this volume] will show what that work really was, and what the new society which has come from that violent labor is, what the Revolution has taken away and what it has preserved from that old regime against which it was directed."
Tocqueville died in the midst of this work. Here in volume 2—in clear, up-to-date English—is all that he had completed, including the chapters he started for a work on Napoleon, notes and analyses he made in the course of researching and writing the first volume, and his notes on his preparation for his continuation. Based on the new French edition of The Old Regime, most of the translated texts have never before appeared in English, and many of those that have appeared have been considerable altered. More than ever before, readers will be able to see how Tocqueville's account of the Revolution would have come out, had he lived to finish it. This handsomely produced volume completes the set and is essential reading for anyone interested in the French Revolution or in Tocqueville's thought.
In his examination of the ways in which theatre participates in the ongoing representations of and debates about the past, Freddie Rokem concentrates on the ways in which theatre after World War II has presented different aspects of the French Revolution and the Holocaust, showing us that by “performing history” actors bring the historical past and the theatrical present together.
Leading historians of the French, Batavian, Helvetic, Cisalpine and Neapolitan revolutions bridge the gap between the historiographies of the so-called 'Sister' Republics. They explore political culture as a set of discourses or political practices. Parliamentary practices, the comparability of 'universal' political concepts, late-eighteenth century Republicanism, the relationship between press and politics, and the interaction between the Sister Republics and France are studied from a comparative, transnational perspective.
It is Doris Kadish's contention in this book that gender and politics went hand-in-hand in the nineteenth century; that nineteenth-century works can often be read as retellings of the French Revolution; and that the political meanings of these works can be gleaned through the study of narrative strategies that she chooses to call "semiotic readings." Building on the work of Marina Warner, Lynn Hunt, Joan Landes, Nancy Armstrong, Foucault and others, she shows how the strategy of politicizing gender during and after the revolution served many functions--among them to articulate representations of revolution, to form the nineteenth-century public sphere, to constitute bourgeois ideology, to distance the unruly masses, and ultimately, perhaps, to express a deep seated fear of women as a threat to the status quo. Looking at the French and English novel, and even selected relevant paintings in this way, she is able to read much-read texts in new and refreshing ways. She shows us how a collective story or master narrative of the revolution was retold and refashioned throughout the century, even where we might least expect to find it. She looks first at small details in order to see the larger patterns, and is among the first to show us how semiotics may make a contribution to gender studies.
Why is the anniversary of the French Revolution celebrated on July 14, the day the Bastille was stormed, rather than on August 26, the day the Declaration of the Rights of Man was signed? Why don’t the French do as the Americans, who see their revolution epitomized by the signing of the Declaration of Independence? “There is surely something to be learned from contemplating the difference between these two ways of representing a revolution,” writes James Heffernan. In this volume, he and 13 other distinguished scholars consider representations of the French Revolution in literature, historical narratives, and art as central to understanding it. Challenging the idea that history is a body of fact separable from fictions wrought by literature and the visual arts, they show that study of a major historical event inevitably leads to study of representation.
As it changed forever the political landscape of the modern world, the French Revolution was driven by a new type of personality: the confirmed, self-aware revolutionary. Maximilien Robespierre originated the role and embodied its ideological essence and extremes; the self that he projected to the people was equated with the ideals for which he strove. In creating this intellectual biography of so enigmatic a figure, David Jordan has stressed the words of the man about himself. With great imagination and insight, Jordan places Robespierre's self-conceptualization within the context of events and explains how Robespierre "The Incorruptible"—a man seen by contemporaries as virtuous—could not only equate justice with vengeance and demand it of the people, but also stand as its symbol before the world.
The newspaper press was an essential aspect of the political culture of the French Revolution. Revolutionary News highlights the most significant features of this press in clear and vivid language. It breaks new ground in examining not only the famous journalists but the obscure publishers and the anonymous readers of the Revolutionary newspapers. Popkin examines the way press reporting affected Revolutionary crises and the way in which radical journalists like Marat and the Pere Duchene used their papers to promote democracy.
What Is the Third Estate? was the most influential pamphlet of 1789. It did much to set the French Revolution on a radically democratic course. It also launched its author, the Abbé Sieyes, on a remarkable political career that spanned the entire revolutionary decade. Sieyes both opened the revolution by authoring the National Assembly’s declaration of sovereignty in June of 1789 and closed it in 1799 by engineering Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’état. This book studies the powerful rhetoric of the great pamphlet and the brilliant but enigmatic thought of its author. William H. Sewell’s insightful analysis reveals the fundamental role played by the new discourse of political economy in Sieyes’s thought and uncovers the strategies by which this gifted rhetorician gained the assent of his intended readers—educated and prosperous bourgeois who felt excluded by the nobility in the hierarchical social order of the old regime. He also probes the contradictions and incoherencies of the pamphlet’s highly polished text to reveal fissures that reach to the core of Sieyes’s thought—and to the core of the revolutionary project itself. Combining techniques of intellectual history and literary analysis with a deep understanding of French social and political history, Sewell not only fashions an illuminating portrait of a crucial political document, but outlines a fresh perspective on the history of revolutionary political culture.
During the past twenty-five years, the historiography of the French Revolution has experienced a revolution of its own. Utilizing developments in such areas as anthropology and critical theory, scholars have begun to ask new questions and to devise new ways of understanding the period.
The Rise and Fall of the French Revolution is a collection of seventeen pathbreaking articles which originally appeared in the Journal of Modern History. Contributors include Keith Michael Baker, Suzanne Desan, Bill Edmonds, François Furet, Vivian R. Gruder, Paul Hanson, James N. Hood, Lynn Hunt, David Lansky, Colin Lucas, John Markoff, Mona Ozouf, Alison Patrick, Jeremy D. Popkin, William H. Sewell, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Timothy Tackett, and Dale Van Kley. In addition, a substantial introduction by the editor discusses the evolution of the history of the period and how the individual contributors have shaped the debate.
This volume not only chronicles the rise and fall of the French Revolution but also introduces the reader to the different approaches being employed by the most eminent historians working in the field. The result is a volume on the French Revolution that offers a compelling combination of information and opinion, narrative and interpretation.
In this work Alan Forrest brings together some of the recent research on the Revolutionary army that has been undertaken on both sides of the Atlantic by younger historians, many of whom look to the influential work of Braudel for a model. Forrest places the armies of the Revolution in a broader social and political context by presenting the effects of war and militarization on French society and government in the Revolutionary period. Revolutionary idealists thought of the French soldier as a willing volunteer sacrificing himself for the principles of the Revolution; Forrest examines the convergence of these ideals with the ordinary, and often dreadful, experience of protracted warfare that the soldier endured.
In this inventive book, Peter Fritzsche explores how Europeans and Americans saw themselves in the drama of history, how they took possession of a past thought to be slipping away, and how they generated countless stories about the sorrowful, eventful paths they chose to follow.
In the aftermath of the French Revolution, contemporaries saw themselves as occupants of an utterly new period. Increasingly disconnected from an irretrievable past, worried about an unknown and dangerous future, they described themselves as indisputably modern. To be cast in the new time of the nineteenth century was to recognize the weird shapes of historical change, to see landscapes scattered with ruins, and to mourn the remains of a bygone era.
Tracing the scars of history, writers and painters, revolutionaries and exiles, soldiers and widows, and ordinary home dwellers took a passionate, even flamboyant, interest in the past. They argued politics, wrote diaries, devoured memoirs, and collected antiques, all the time charting their private paths against the tremors of public life. These nostalgic histories take place on battlefields trampled by Napoleon, along bucolic English hedges, against the fairytale silhouettes of the Grimms’ beloved Germany, and in the newly constructed parlors of America’s western territories.
This eloquent book takes a surprising, completely original look at the modern age: our possessions, our heritage, and our newly considered selves.
Rebecca L. Spang, who revolutionized our understanding of the restaurant, has written a new history of money. It is also a new history of the French Revolution, with economics at its heart. In her telling, radicalization was driven by an ever-widening gap between political ideals—including “freedom of money”—and the harsh realities of daily life.
A timely exploration of the political uses of language and rhetoric.
Camille Desmoulins, a journalist writing under the Montagnard regime of 1793-94, remarked that France's government had replaced "the language of democracy" with "the cold poison of fear, which paralyzed thought in the bottom of people's souls, and prevented it from pouring forth at the tribunal, or in writing." How this happened, how the Reign of Terror reached even into the realms of thought and language, is the subject of Caroline Weber's book, a revealing look into the paradoxical embargo on free expression that underpinned the Robespierrists' self-proclaimed "despotism of liberty" during the French Revolution.
Weber examines Jean-Jacques Rousseau's and the Robespierrists' articulation of a series of initiatives designed to curtail and control the dissemination of alternative political and philosophical messages in the republic. Here Weber underscores the internal contradictions and limitations of an enterprise that promised universal freedom while oppressing particularism, and that railed against the very language that it was compelled to adopt as a principal political tool. The book then focuses on two eloquent contemporary critics of this phenomenon, Desmoulins and the Marquis de Sade, the infamous libertine author. Weber demonstrates how Desmoulins reconfigured the Montagnard regime's rhetoric to conjure up a political system based on tolerance, not terror, and how Sade deftly parodied the Robespierrists' brutality and hypocrisy, proposing a republic based on the ruthless elimination of dissident voices and on the unabashed celebration of despotism and bloodshed.
A balanced account of how the "discourse of totality" actually restricted particular freedoms in the wake of the French Revolution, this book provides a highly original--and timely--exposition of the political uses of rhetoric and of the links between language and power.
Caroline Weber is assistant professor of Romance languages at the University of Pennsylvania.
Natural right—the idea that there is a collection of laws and rights based not on custom or belief but that are “natural” in origin—is typically associated with liberal politics and freedom. In The Terror of Natural Right, Dan Edelstein argues that the revolutionaries used the natural right concept of the “enemy of the human race”—an individual who has transgressed the laws of nature and must be executed without judicial formalities—to authorize three-quarters of the deaths during the Terror. Edelstein further contends that the Jacobins shared a political philosophy that he calls “natural republicanism,” which assumed that the natural state of society was a republic and that natural right provided its only acceptable laws. Ultimately, he proves that what we call the Terror was in fact only one facet of the republican theory that prevailed from Louis’s trial until the fall of Robespierre.
A highly original work of historical analysis, political theory, literary criticism, and intellectual history, The Terror of Natural Right challenges prevailing assumptions of the Terror to offer a new perspective on the Revolutionary period.
When the King Took Flight
Timothy Tackett Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress DC137.05.T33 2003 | Dewey Decimal 944.035092
On a June night in 1791, King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette fled Paris in disguise, hoping to escape the mounting turmoil of the French Revolution. They were arrested by a small group of citizens a few miles from the Belgian border and forced to return to Paris. Two years later they would both die at the guillotine. It is this extraordinary story, and the events leading up to and away from it, that Timothy Tackett recounts in gripping novelistic style.
The king’s flight opens a window to the whole of French society during the Revolution. Each dramatic chapter spotlights a different segment of the population, from the king and queen as they plotted and executed their flight, to the people of Varennes who apprehended the royal family, to the radicals of Paris who urged an end to monarchy, to the leaders of the National Assembly struggling to control a spiraling crisis, to the ordinary citizens stunned by their king’s desertion. Tackett shows how Louis’s flight reshaped popular attitudes toward kingship, intensified fears of invasion and conspiracy, and helped pave the way for the Reign of Terror.
Tackett brings to life an array of unique characters as they struggle to confront the monumental transformations set in motion in 1789. In so doing, he offers an important new interpretation of the Revolution. By emphasizing the unpredictable and contingent character of this story, he underscores the power of a single event to change irrevocably the course of the French Revolution, and consequently the history of the world.
Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1795
Edited and translated by Darlene Gay Levy, Harriet Branson Applewhite, and Mary Durham Johnson University of Illinois Press, 1979 Library of Congress HQ1616.W65 | Dewey Decimal 301.4120944
200 years ago, the women of revolutionary Paris were demanding legal equality in marriage; educational opportunities for girls, including vocational training; public instruction, licensing, and support for midwives; guarantees for women's rights to employment; and an end to the exclusion of women from certain professions. The editors have uncovered, translated, and annotated sixty documents which shed light on these and other socioeconomic struggles by women and their impact on the French Revolutionary era. This work makes a significant contribution to the growing appreciation of the role of women in history, politics, ideology, and social change.
"This unique collection of documents will be a boon to teachers of history and to scholars of the French Revolution. . . . Recommended."
-- Library Journal
Wordsworth is England's greatest poet of the French Revolution: he witnessed some of its events first hand, participated in its intellectual and social ambitions, and eventually developed his celebrated poetic campaign in response to its enthusiasms. But how should that response be understood? Combining careful interpretive analysis with wide-ranging historical scholarship, Chandler presents a challenging new account of the political views implicit in Wordsworth's major works–in The Prelude, above all, but also in the central lyrics and shorter narrative poems.
Central to the discussion, which restores Wordsworth to both the French and English contexts in which he matured, is a consideration of his relation to Rousseau and Burke. Chandler maintains that by the time Wordsworth set forth his "program for poetry" in 1798, he had turned away from the Rousseauist idea of nature that had informed his early republican writings. He had already become a poet of what Burke called "second nature"–human nature cultivated by custom, habit, and tradition–and an opponent of the quest for first principles that his friend Coleridge could not forsake. In his analysis of the poetry, Chandler suggests that even Wordsworth's most apparently private moments, the lyrical "spots of time," ideologically embodied the uncalculated habits of an oral narrative discipline and a native English mind.