The Body Politic: Corporeal Metaphor in Revolutionary France, 1770-1800

Overview


This is a remarkable history of the French Revolution told through the study of images of the body as they appeared in the popular literature of the time, showing how these images were at the very center of the metaphoric language used to describe the revolution in progress.

The author draws upon some 2,000 texts, pamphlets, announcements, opinions, accounts, treatises, and journals to exhume the textual reality of the Revolution, the body of its history. The deployment of ...

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Overview


This is a remarkable history of the French Revolution told through the study of images of the body as they appeared in the popular literature of the time, showing how these images were at the very center of the metaphoric language used to describe the revolution in progress.

The author draws upon some 2,000 texts, pamphlets, announcements, opinions, accounts, treatises, and journals to exhume the textual reality of the Revolution, the body of its history. The deployment of bodily images—the degeneracy of the nobility, the impotence of the king, the herculean strength of the citizenry, the goddess of politics appearing naked like Truth, the bleeding wounds of the Republican martyrs—allowed political society to represent itself at a pivotal moment in its history.

Searching for "the body of history," the author finds three forms of political representation: first, the metaphysical representation of the body as an anthropomorphic symbol of the political system—the transition of sovereignty from the body of the king to the great citizen body; second, the metaphorical representation of the body as a tool of discourse for persuasion—the embodied tale of the revolutionary epic; and third, the representation of the body in public ceremonies—street carnivals and funerals.

The introductory chapter studies the symbolic defeat of the king's body and the transfer of virility to the Republican body. Later chapters examine the new patriotic body as described in medical terms; paintings by David that show the revolutionary hero as "political body"; the Revolutionary subject conceived in terms of regeneration; its opposite, the aristocratic body, conceived as monstrous; and the bestial images projected onto Marie Antoinette.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804728157
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1997
  • Series: Mestizo Spaces / Espaces Metisses Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Antoine de Baecque is Professor at the University of Saint Quentin in Yvelynes, France.
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Table of Contents

Translator's Note 1
Introduction. The Body of History
Pt. I The State-Body: Metaphor of the Transition of Sovereignty
1 The Defeat of the Body of the King: Essay on the Impotence of Louis XVI 29
2 Sieyes, Doctor of the Body Politic: The Metaphor of the Great Body of the Citizens 76
Pt. II The Narrative-Body, or History in Fiction
3 Regeneration: The Marvelous Body, or The Body Raised Upright of the New Revolutionary Man 131
4 The Monsters of a Fantastic Aristocracy, or How the Revolution Embodies Its Horrors 157
5 David, or The Struggle of Bodies 183
Pt. III The Body as Spectacle: The Flesh of Political Ceremony
6 The Great Spectacle of Transparency: Public Denunciation and the Classification of Appearances 209
7 The Bodies of the Political Carnival 247
8 The Offertory of the Martyrs: The Wounded Body of the Revolution 280
Conclusion. A Few Bodies to End (the Revolution) 309
Notes 327
Index 359
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Recipe

This is a remarkable history of the French Revolution told through the study of images of the body as they appeared in the popular literature of the time, showing how these images were at the very center of the metaphoric language used to describe the revolution in progress.
The author draws upon some 2,000 texts, pamphlets, announcements, opinions, accounts, treatises, and journals to exhume the textual reality of the Revolution, the body of its history. The deployment of bodily images—the degeneracy of the nobility, the impotence of the king, the herculean strength of the citizenry, the goddess of politics appearing naked like Truth, the bleeding wounds of the Republican martyrs—allowed political society to represent itself at a pivotal moment in its history.
Searching for "the body of history," the author finds three forms of political representation: first, the metaphysical representation of the body as an anthropomorphic symbol of the political system—the transition of sovereignty from the body of the king to the great citizen body; second, the metaphorical representation of the body as a tool of discourse for persuasion—the embodied tale of the revolutionary epic; and third, the representation of the body in public ceremonies—street carnivals and funerals.
The introductory chapter studies the symbolic defeat of the king's body and the transfer of virility to the Republican body. Later chapters examine the new patriotic body as described in medical terms; paintings by David that show the revolutionary hero as "political body"; the Revolutionary subject conceived in terms of regeneration; its opposite, the aristocratic body, conceived asmonstrous; and the bestial images projected onto Marie Antoinette.
Read More Show Less

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