Cover

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Title page, Series page, Copyright

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Contents

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p. v

List of Illustrations

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p. vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

When some Parisian museums were still poorly-lit repositories for sacred and dusty relics, the Musée Carnavalet had a room designated with the words "The Terror." This room offered two antithetical images of the French Revolution. ...

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Introduction: Revolutionary Will

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pp. 1-6

In a note to himself Saint-Just once wrote that "the revolution must culminate in the perfection of happiness."1 We all know that the French Revolution's pursuit of happiness degenerated into violence and death, the glorious ideals of the Declaration of Rights and the conquest of liberty compromised forever by war, civil strife, mob violence, and the specter of the guillotine. ...

Part I. Intents and Purposes

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1. Political Science

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pp. 9-31

This text points out the two principles that simultaneously mediate and limit the power conferred by human knowledge: the church, and the essentially whimsical character of nature. The bells that tolled in the hope of turning away the lightning, a modest scientific experiment, brought upon themselves the fire of the gods with uncanny precision and devastating magnitude. ...

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2. The End of Representation

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pp. 32-58

"Cast a glance at the theater of the State," wrote Marat on 7 July 1792: "[The] props have changed, but the same actors remain, the same masks, the same intrigues, the same tricks. . . . Today, the principal actors are behind the curtain; ...

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3. The Revolutionary Sublime

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pp. 59-78

In The Ideology of the Aesthetic Terry Eagleton suggests that the extraordinary precedence of the aesthetic in European philosophy illustrates the fact that, when speaking of art, one is also speaking of the "struggle for political hegemony."1 ...

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4. Against the Law

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pp. 79-96

Michelet, who would establish once and for all the great myths of the Revolution, described Saint-Just's discourse on the judgment of Louis XVI as follows: "Saint-Just went to the podium, and, dispassionately making an atrocious speech, said that there was no need to engage in a lengthy judgment of the King, but that he simply had to be killed."1 ...

Part II. Last Will and Testament

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5. Around Midnight: Closing Time

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pp. 99-124

The end of a century rarely coincides with a date on the calendar. Least of all the end of the eighteenth century, the only one in modern history to have completed its centennial cycle well before the appointed day. Indeed, on December 31, 1799, no one was mourning a dying century. ...

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6. Graveyard Shift

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pp. 125-148

In the years that preceded the onset of the Revolution, Paris underwent an urban upheaval of considerable magnitude. From December 1785 to January 1788 the city lived with two permanent demolition sites. ...

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7. The Legacy of History

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pp. 149-180

In 1794, a German visitor to Paris wrote this description of Robespierre: "He is over six feet tall and bears himself well. . . . Beneath the dark arches of his eyebrows are eyes of a deep blue that are at once flashing, solemn and reflective and in which the flame of fanaticism is blended with an indescribably gentle expression. ...

Notes

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pp. 181-210

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 211-218

Index

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pp. 219-223