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By Ceri Crossley

The French Revolution had a profound impression on perceptions of the previous in addition to surroundings the schedule for contemporary political tradition. This booklet examines the ways that the earlier was once rediscovered, retrieved and represented in post-revolutionary France, concentrating upon the recovery and the July Monarchy, the interval which witnessed the promoting of heritage as a grand discourse of legitimation.

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Additional info for French Historians and Romanticism: Thierry, Guizot, the Saint-Simonians, Quinet, Michelet

Example text

However, Mignet clung to the idea that beneath the shifting, unpredictable surface of events forces were at work constructing a new order, that the spectacle of violence and disillusion was not the whole story, that in a mysterious way disintegration confirmed the national will. Having reached the Directory he drew some conclusions: The French Revolution, which had destroyed the old government and completely overturned the old society, had two quite distinct objectives, that of a free constitution, and that of a more perfected social state.

The heyday of the grand overviews of history was the July Monarchy. The failure of the Second Republic caused liberal and republican historians alike to rethink their position. Was the Revolution such a great break with the past after all? As the books and colloquia spawned by the bicentenary of the French Revolution have amply demonstrated, these concerns have lost nothing of their urgency. France has yet to come to terms with the legacy of the Revolution. The relationship between history, revolution and national identity is a difficult one and is subject to revision.

It was bound to happen given the obstacles placed in the way of the advance of the Third Estate. From the standpoint of the 1820s its gains outweighed its losses. The idea of historical inevitability, the tracing of economic and social causes and effects, made the Revolution an intelligible phenomenon, manageable by mind, a sequence of events held together in a special kind of coherence. The disturbing aspects of the Revolution were not elided but their impact was softened so that they did not destabilise the reader’s response.

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