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Inventing the French Revolution

Inventing the French Revolution
Essays on French Political Culture in the Eighteenth Century


Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: April 1990
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521385787

£ 28.99

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About the Authors
  • How did the French Revolution become thinkable? Keith Michael Baker, a leading authority on the ideological origins of the French Revolution, explores this question in his wide-ranging collection of essays. Analyzing the new politics of contestation that transformed the traditional political culture of the Old Regime during its last decades, Baker revises our historical map of the political space in which the French Revolution took form. Some essays study the ways in which the revolutionaries' break with the past was prepared by competition between agents and critics of absolute monarchy to control the cultural resources and political meanings of French sought before 1789 to reconstitute their body politic; and by the invention of 'public opinion' as a new form of political authority displacing notions of 'representation', 'constitution', 'sovereignty' - and of 'the French Revolution' itself - the ambiguities, tensions, and contradictions that were to drive the revolutionary dynamic in subsequent years. The result is a substantial and unified set of studies, stimulating renewed reflection on one of the central themes in modern European history.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Professor Keith Baker is undoubtedly one of the most creative historians working on the intellectual histiry of 18th century France … Anyone working in this field should listen carefully to what he has to say.' Colin Lucas, Balliol College, Oxford

    '[Professor Baker's] is an original and brilliant analysis of the central types of political discourse of the waning ancien régime.' Francois Furet, University of Chicago

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 1990
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521385787
    • length: 384 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. On the problem of the ideological origins of the French Revolution
    Part I. French History at Issue:
    2. Memory and practice: politics and the representation of the past in eighteenth-century France
    3. Controlling French history: the ideological arsenal of Jacob-Nicolas Moreau
    4. A script for a French revolution: the political consciousness of the abbé Mably
    Part II. The Language of Politics at the End of the Old Regime:
    5. French political thought at the accession of Louis XVI
    6. A classical republican in eighteenth-century Bordeaux: Guillaume-Joseph Saige
    7. Science and politics at the end of the old regime
    8. Public opinion as political invention
    Part III. Toward a Revolutionary Lexicon:
    9. Inventing the French Revolution
    10. Representation redefined
    11. Fixing the French constitution

  • Author

    Keith Michael Baker, Stanford University, California

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