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Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre
     

Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre

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by David P. Jordan
 

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In changing forever the political landscape of the modern world, the French Revolution was driven by a new personality: the confirmed, self-aware revolutionary. Maximilien Robespierre originated the role, inspiring such devoted twentieth-century disciples as Lenin—who deemed Robespierre a Bolshevik avant la lettre.

Although he dominated the

Overview

In changing forever the political landscape of the modern world, the French Revolution was driven by a new personality: the confirmed, self-aware revolutionary. Maximilien Robespierre originated the role, inspiring such devoted twentieth-century disciples as Lenin—who deemed Robespierre a Bolshevik avant la lettre.

Although he dominated the Committee for Public Safety only during the last year of his life, Robespierre was the Revolution in flesh and blood. He embodies its ideological essence, its unprecedented extremes, its absolutist virtues and vices; he incarnated a new, completely politicized self to lead a new, wholly regenerated society.

Yet as historian David P. Jordan observes, Robespierre has remained an enigma. While his revolutionary career embraced the most crucial years of the Revolutions—1789 to 1794—it was little presaged by the unremarkable course of his early life. The Jacobin leader to whom the revolutionary masses clung is thus both as mysterious as his remote provincial past and as awesome as the world-shaking regicide he inspired.

Confronted by these extremes, historians have often contented themselves to caricature Robespierre as an antichrist, a bourgeois manipulator of the rabble, or a canny political tactician. Jordan looks to Robespierre’s own self-conception for a true understanding of the man and his Revolution.

Indeed, Robespierre wrote about himself often, and at length. Influenced by Enlightenment rationalism and the new literary genre of autobiography, he left behind a voluminous body of speeches, newspaper articles, and pamphlets laced with reflections and revelations about his self-created destiny as living martyr and revolutionary Everyman. From these thoughts and words, Jordan attempts to uncover Robespierre, to reveal what made this unlikely figure—onetime provincial lawyer, small-town académicien, and uninspired versifier—the most important in revolutionary France.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
**** BCL3 cites the Free Press edition of 1985. In this intellectual biography, Jordan (history, Illinois) has stressed the words of the man about himself, placing Robespierre's self- conceptualization within the context of events, and explains how Robespierre originated the role of self-aware revolutionary and how he projected that self to the people. Fresh, readable and intelligent, this book was highly recommended when first published. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476725710
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
10/16/2013
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
315
Sales rank:
962,642
File size:
6 MB

Meet the Author

David P. Jordan is the author of Napoleon and the Revolution, Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussman, and The King’s Trial: Louis XVI vs. the French Revolution, among others.

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