The French Revolution of 1789 and Its Impact

By Gail M. Schwab; John R. Jeanneney | Go to book overview

2
Writing Revolution: Michelet's History of the French Revolution

Tom Conner

Jules Michelet ( 1798-1874) today stands out as the Gargantua of French historians. His massive, protean seventeen-volume Histoire de France, concluded in 1876, and his earlier Histoire de la Révolution Française, published between 1847 and 1853, are brilliant examples of a hybrid discourse commonly known as "romantic history." This history is neither entirely fact nor fiction, at once romance and history, a strange offspring of the romantic aesthetic that produced Quasimodo--what you might call, in homage to Hugo hunchback in Notre-Dame de Paris, "un discours historique à peu prés" (an almost historical discourse), both sublime and grotesque, monstrous yet awesome, inspiring emotions of dread, veneration, and wonder in the reader. On the relationship between history and the novel, the French Romantic poet Alfred de Vigny had this to say, and one cannot help but think of Michelet:

By a sort of fusion which has produced confusion, the work of fiction, or the novel, has borrowed from history the exactitude and the reality of the facts, whereas history, which is the work of memory and of judgement, has taken some of the novel's passion, of its tragic and comic ways, and detailed descriptions. 1

Some readers distrust Michelet's emotional style and the freedom with which he interprets certain documents, but most admire this odd and at the same time intriguing mixture of genius and patent absurdity, and are quite content to read if not history proper (if indeed there is such a thing), then at least his-story of the French Revolution. Michelet began researching the subject in 1841 and interrupted his magnum opus, the Histoire de France, in 1846 to start writing. Only two historians had ever attempted to write on the French Revolution before him ( Mignet and Thiers), so Michelet's concern for careful documentation is understandable, although the contemporary reader often wishes that Michelet might have included references to his sources. Actually, Michelet needed less than a year to complete the two first volumes; however, the following volumes dragged on, and the work was not completed until 1853. The Histoire de la Révolution Française was not an immediate success with the public and did not become widely read until the Third Republic.

As Hayden White has pointed out in his monumental study on nine- teenth-century historiography, 2 Michelet worked at a time when history as an

-13-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The French Revolution of 1789 and Its Impact
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 374

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.