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Crisis in representation : Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, Helen Maria Williams, and the rewriting of the French Revolution

Author: Steven Blakemore
Publisher: Madison : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press ; London ; Cranbury, NJ : Associated University Presses, ©1997.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
This study describes how three prominent Anglo-American writers changed their early views of the French Revolution after the Terror of 1793-94. Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Helen Maria Williams illustrate the crisis in representation confronting writers who had previously committed themselves to the Revolution of 1789. They were the principal participants in the ongoing revision of the French Revolution,
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Blakemore, Steven.
Crisis in representation.
Madison : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press ; London ; Cranbury, NJ : Associated University Presses, c1997
(OCoLC)605316209
Online version:
Blakemore, Steven.
Crisis in representation.
Madison : Fairleigh Dickinson University Press ; London ; Cranbury, NJ : Associated University Presses, c1997
(OCoLC)607691525
Named Person: Thomas Paine; Mary Wollstonecraft; Helen Maria Williams; Thomas Paine; Mary Wollstonecraft; Helen Maria Williams; Thomas Paine; Mary Wollstonecraft; Helen Maria Williams; Thomas Paine; Mary Wollstonecraft; Helen Maria Williams
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Steven Blakemore
ISBN: 0838637140 9780838637142
OCLC Number: 35318809
Description: 273 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Contents: 1. In the Beginning: Thomas Paine's Two Revolutionary Careers --
2. Paine's Revolutionary Comedy: The Bastille and October Days in the Rights of Man --
3. Revisionist Patricide: Thomas Paine's Letter to George Washington --
4. From the Beginning: Paine's Obsession with Origins and The Age of Reason --
5. Wollstonecraft and the French Revolution --
6. Wollstonecraft, Macbeth, and the Death of Louis XVI --
7. The Bastille's Blood: The October Days, Barriers, and Marie Antoinette --
8. The Inevitability of Progress: A Revolution Within, Happier Far --
9. Helen Maria Williams and the French Revolution --
10. Comedy, Tragedy, and Romance in William's Letters from France --
11. The Sublime and Beautiful in Williams' Letters from France
Responsibility: Steven Blakemore.

Abstract:

This study describes how three prominent Anglo-American writers changed their early views of the French Revolution after the Terror of 1793-94. Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Helen Maria Williams illustrate the crisis in representation confronting writers who had previously committed themselves to the Revolution of 1789. They were the principal participants in the ongoing revision of the French Revolution, not only because of their contemporary prominence, but also because they were living in revolutionary France during the Terror. The crisis in representation was, for them, intensely public and personal.

All three responded by "writing out" the crisis - in the simultaneous sense of erasure and exposure - by reconceiving the Revolution through strategies and themes of repetition. Wollstonecraft and Williams explained the Terror as a "counterrevolutionary" return to the past, and both represented it as a repetitive version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. This intertextual revision is also resonant in the works of Thomas Paine. His historical contribution to the crisis was the recreation of himself as the revolutionary writer who had literally authored the American Revolution that, in turn, had "caused" the French Revolution.

For Paine, Wollstonecraft, and Williams, the crisis in representation was actually a variety of representational crises. That they returned to the paradigms of the past to resolve the crisis signified that they were rewriting the Revolution within the textual space of the tradition they had originally opposed.

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