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The French Revolution

Thomas Carlyle

Book Overview: 

The French Revolution: A History was written by the Scottish essayist, philosopher, and historian Thomas Carlyle. The three-volume work, charts the course of the French Revolution from 1789 to the height of the Reign of Terror (1793–94) and culminates in 1795. A massive undertaking which draws together a wide variety of sources, Carlyle's history—despite the unusual style in which it is written—is considered to be an authoritative account of the early course of the Revolution. Volume 1 is titled 'The Bastille'

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Crime, with frightful shoes-of-swiftness! 'Some score or two' of wretched persons, found prostrate with drink in the cellars of that Saint-Lazare, are indignantly haled to prison; the Jailor has no room; whereupon, other place of security not suggesting itself, it is written, 'on les pendit, they hanged them.' (Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 96.) Brief is the word; not without significance, be it true or untrue!

In such circumstances, the Aristocrat, the unpatriotic rich man is packing-up for departure. But he shall not get departed. A wooden-shod force has seized all Barriers, burnt or not: all that enters, all that seeks to issue, is stopped there, and dragged to the Hotel-de-Ville: coaches, tumbrils, plate, furniture, 'many meal-sacks,' in time even 'flocks and herds' encumber the Place de Greve. (Dusaulx, Prise de la Bastille, p. 20.)

And so it roars, and rages, and brays; drums beating, steeples pealing; criers rushing with hand-bells: "Oyez, oyez. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I gave it 5 because it was one of the most original books I have read; that is was written over 100 years ago makes its adventurous and passionate approach to the subject even more amazing. As other reviewers have stated, this is not the book for a blow by blow history of the French Revolution....do

There's so much to hate about this “classic” that I almost feel a little queasy saying that, at the end of the day, I do think its a great work... of a sort.

Carlyle was a nineteenth century “liberal,” which then as now means basically a conservative. He was thus horrified by the French Revolution's

Holy mammoth of a book!

I have mixed feelings about this one...

I stuck with it for two months and I don't hate it. But I didn't love it either. I really liked it once I finished it, though. The thing about these types of books is that, once every 10 pages or so, along comes a sentence that dazzles yo

An astonishing piece of work especially when you consider the circumstances of its writing. Apparently Dickens kept it by his side when writing TO2C...I can believe it. Not a book I would consult for dry facts, but unbeatable for sense of rising terror and loss of control. All you people with this o

At last I've come to the end of this lengthy book! I won't deny that there were times when I wanted to abandon it, because the style of writing is quirky and polemic and the tone unabashedly self-righteous. I just wish there were other more readable historical works out there about this cataclysmic

This book is so full of detail and depth that it feels so real. Dickens based his novel A Tale of Two Cities on this book which he called 'wonderful' in his introduction. If you read it, you'll be inspired too!

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