Hippolyte Taine

The History of French Revolution

The History of French Revolution in three volumes is a historical work by French historian Hippolyte Taine. This period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France began in 1789 with the fall of the Bastille and held the country in turbulence for the next decade. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon. Conceived by Taine with the aim of understanding the France of his day, his work achieved originality in its use of a long perspective to analyze the causes of the French Revolution. In particular, Taine denounced the artificiality of the revolution's political constructions (the excessively abstract and rational spirit of Robespierre, for example), which, in his mind, violently contradicted the natural and slow growth of the institutions of a State. For him, the force of history is such that it is illusory to want to change a society. Thus, following the defeat of Sedan and the Commune, Taine accuses the French Revolution of being the matrix of all evils which brought France into a cycle of decadence. It is in particular the abstraction of the philosophy of the Enlightenment which is rejected.
2,109 printed pages
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Original publication
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John Durand
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