The French Revolution Debate in English Literature and Culture

By Lisa Plummer Crafton | Go to book overview

Revolutionary era, when the ideology of separate spheres widened the gender divide between private and public spaces, many conservatives in Britain were convinced that women's interference in politics constituted what was wrong with French republicanism. 46 Decrying the political participation of women as a specifically French practice increased after the outbreak of war in 1793. 47 A preoccupation with the need to reinstate familial authority by insisting that women's place be in the home became major elements in anti-Jacobin, counterrevolutionary propaganda. 48 And one of the most effective representations deployed to prove that the conditions of Terror persisted in France and threatened to cross the channel were those in which the streets of Paris were shown to be overrun with madwomen. 49

Presenting women's political activity as an especially undesirable aspect of revolutionary upheaval was achieved in part by situating that activity within the satirical discourse of madness just at the moment when truth claims being made for the rising gender stereotype of madness in women were gaining credibility. Depictions of revolutionary women in political caricature are thus exemplary of the ways in which the visual reconstruction of French revolutionary events was subjected to persistent misrepresentation in the service of the Revolution debate's principal contested issues. The porous relations between allegory and realism, and between realism and distortion that are peculiar to the genre of political caricature, rendered it particularly useful in the campaign to redefine the Revolutionary decade so as to ensure the representational order of the future.


NOTES
1.
On French women revolutionaries and their representation, see Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture and Class in the French Revolution ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); Joan Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution ( Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988); Paule-Marie Duhet , Les femmes et la révolution 1789-1794 ( Paris: Julliard, 1971); Darline Levy , Harriet Applewhite, and Mary Johnson, Women in Revolutionary Paris 1789-1795 ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979); Maurice Agulhon, Marianne into Battle, tr. Janet Lloyd ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981); Madelyn Gutwirth, "The Representation of Women in the Revolutionary Period: The Goddess of Reason and the Queen of the Night," Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, Proceedings 1983 ( Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985), and Twilight of the Goddesses ( New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992); Vivian Cameron, "Political Exposures: Sexuality and Caricature in the French Revolution," Eroticism and the Body Politic, ed. L. Hunt ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 90-107. On British representations of revolutionary subjects, see David Bindman, The Shadow of the Guillotine: Britain and the French Revolution ( London: British Museum, 1989); Ronald Paulson,

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The French Revolution Debate in English Literature and Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of World Literature ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xv
  • Chronology xvii
  • Burke's Perception of Richard Price 1
  • Notes 21
  • Religion and Politics in the Revolution Debate: Burke, Wollstonecraft, Paine 27
  • Notes 38
  • The "Ancient Voices" of Blake's The French Revolution 41
  • Notes 53
  • Arguing Benevolence: Wordsworth, Godwin, and the 1790s 59
  • Notes 76
  • "Great Burke," Thomas Carlyle, and the French Revolution 83
  • Notes 103
  • Politics of the Episteme: The Collapse of the Discourse of General Nature and the Reaction to the French Revolution 107
  • Notes 118
  • Representations of Revolutionary Women in Political Caricature 123
  • Notes 131
  • Postscript: The French Revolution and Romanticism 137
  • Select Bibliography 145
  • Index 149
  • About the Contributors 155
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