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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

Despite its age, now nearly two hundred years old (it was published in 1837), and its idiosyncratic style, Thomas Carlyle’s history remains an important insight into the French Revolution. For the reader desiring a unique perspective on the event and a unique example of historiography, this is a boo

Carlyle is a verbal riot, an elegant, organized, vivid compound sentence of a riot swarming over the personalities and events of the Revolution. According to Carlyle, Voltaire once demanded of his countrymen, “What have you invented?” Carlyle replies for them, “The Art of Insurrection. It was an art

If you're looking for a humdrum, typical history book, what Carlyle would refer to as a "Dryasdust" (dry-as-dust) History, this is certainly not for you. It contains probably the most poetic prose ever written and is infused with so much of Carlyle's emotion and philosophy. On just about every page

This book is not what I expected. I was truly interested in finding out about the French Revolution. Instead of presenting facts, the author chose to use very flowery, Romantic language to describe everything. People were referred to by nicknames, so half of the time, I didn't know who he was referr

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

Regardless of a society's state of literary development there are always, I'd assume, new and different ways of addressing its literary possibilities, some fruitful and some dead ends. People experiment and some succeed. The attempts of others fall by the wayside for whatever reason. And so we come

This the most unusual history you are ever likely to read, dear Reader. Not, it must be emphasized, historical "fiction". One may perhaps best call it historical/philosophical Drama.

The work not unbiased recitation of fact; rather, a poetic play, the author shifting perspective and tense, at tim

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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