Renowned historian Roger Chartier, one of the most brilliant and productive of the younger generation of French historians now refashioning the Annales tradition, attempts in this book to analyze the causes of the French Revolution not simply by pinpointing its 'cultural origins' but by investigating the conditions that 'made it possible because conceivable.'Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane.
Chartier offers a challenging, authoritative synthesis of both old and new interpretations. Readers will be struck particularly by his recognition of studies done by English-language scholars. Three American historians who have especially influenced Chartier are Keith Baker (who has stressed the emergence of public opinion as a potent force with which the crown had to contend in the 18th century), Robert Darnton (who has shown that the hack writers of Grub Street were just as important as the major Enlightenment figures), and Dale Van Kley (who has demonstrated the significance of the political and religious controversies of the 1750s for the events beginning in 1789). Chartier argues that the Enlightenment was only one element in a wide range of cultural developments contributing to the secularization, the skepticism, and the decline of the crown's esteem in the decades prior to the Revolution. For scholars and specialists.-- Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
Chartier, a highly respected young French historian, describes the cultural conditions that made the French Revolution possible by first making it conceivable, and questions the assumed link between the transformations of the 18th century and rupture of the revolution. Translated from the French. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)