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The deaths of Louis XVI : regicide and the French political imagination

Author: Susan Dunn
Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, ©1994.
Series: Literature in history (Princeton, N.J.)
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The public beheading of Louis XVI was a unique and troubling event that scarred French collective memory for two centuries. To Jacobins, the king's decapitation was the people's coronation. To royalists, it was deicide. Nineteenth-century historians considered it an alarming miscalculation, a symbol of the Terror and the moral bankruptcy of the Revolution. By the twentieth century, Camus judged that the killing  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Procès, instances, etc
Named Person: Louis, King of France; Louis, King of France; Louis, King of France; Louis, King of France; Louis, King of France; Louis, King of France; Louis, roi de France; Louis, roi de France; Louis, (roi de France ;; Louis, (roi de France ;
Material Type: Biography, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Susan Dunn
ISBN: 069103429X 9780691034294
OCLC Number: 29361349
Description: xi, 178 pages ; 24 cm.
Series Title: Literature in history (Princeton, N.J.)
Responsibility: Susan Dunn.
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Abstract:

The public beheading of Louis XVI was a unique and troubling event that scarred French collective memory for two centuries. To Jacobins, the king's decapitation was the people's coronation. To royalists, it was deicide. Nineteenth-century historians considered it an alarming miscalculation, a symbol of the Terror and the moral bankruptcy of the Revolution. By the twentieth century, Camus judged that the killing stood at the "crux of our contemporary history." In this book, Susan Dunn investigates the regicide's pivotal role in French intellectual history and political mythology. She examines how thinkers on the right and left repudiated regicide and terror, while articulating a compassionate, humanitarian vision, which became the moral basis for the modern French nation. Their credo of fraternity and unity, however, strangely depoliticized this supremely political act of regicide. Using theoretical insights from Tocqueville, Arendt, Rawls, Walzer, and others, Dunn explores the transformation of violent regicidal politics into an apolitical cult of ethical purity and an antidemocratic nationalist religion. Her book focuses on the fluidity of political myths. The figure of Louis XVI was transmuted into a Joan of Arc and a deified nation, and the notion of his sacrifice contributed to the disquieting myth of a mystical community of self-sacrificing citizens.

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