From Prairial to Pop Culture. Day Eleven. A History quiz


Ending the Revolution in history books is perhaps even more fraught than in fiction, because it forces the historian to choose a moment when the turmoil wound down and to explain what it all meant.   Match the historians and titles to the text excerpt from the end of their books.

  1.  “In the age of Wordsworth, Beethoven, Goya, and Foscolo (all of them close to the Jacobins’ message at some point in their lives), French revolutionaries daringly (and disastrously) tried to transcend their lived circumstance to politicize Western culture’s age-old longing for freedom and social complementarity. We should not ignore that historical experience. Jacobinism’s triumphs and disasters are our own. Our task is not just to understand their failure but also to see why the Jacobins sensibly hoped to succeed; and it is these hopes that should be most vivid to us. ‘Remember me,’ sighs the impassioned, spurned, self-destructive, and dying queen of Carthage in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, ‘remember me, but forget my fate.'”
  2.  “The problems of how to achieve a form of stable representative politics that was not mired in corruption continued through the troubled years of the Directory. It was an attempt that climaxed in the politics of Napoléon’s coup d’état, and the rise of a militarist regime in which glory, not virtue, was at the ideological forefront. Many more would die for Napoleon’s glory than ever died for the Jacobins’ virtue. Robespierre had long warned of the danger of letting generals take political power. But that, as they say, is another story.”
  3. “Neither totalitarianism nor democratic republicanism was the most important outcome of the French Revolution. Rather, the Faustian pact citizens made with the instruments of repression sapped the foundations of an organic society and fostered the emergence of a modern security state, one whose legitimacy derived above all from restoring and then preserving order. The French Revolution ended with the triumph of Hobbes over Rousseau.”
  4. “The transformation in the way farmers and peasants talked about their land was of more significance than any constitution: it marked the end of an immemorial world of thought and experience. Old and strong forces were woken by the Revolution, they began to know themselves in a new way, and they changed the world.”
  1. Patrice Higonnet, Goodness beyond Virtue: Jacobins during the French Revolution (1998)
  2. James Livesey, Making Democracy in the French Revolution (2001)
  3. Howard G. Brown, Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon (2006)
  4. Marisa Linton, Choosing Terror: Virtue, Friendship, and Authenticity in the French Revolution (2013)

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