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Reflections on the Revolution in France

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,508 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
John Pocock's edition of Burke's Reflections is two classics in one: Burke's Reflections and Pocock's reflections on Burke and the eighteenth century.
Paperback, 287 pages
Published September 15th 1987 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published 1790)
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Bill  Kerwin
Feb 25, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

In this classic work, Burke--the father of modern conservatism--criticizes the architects of the French Revolution and the new revolutionary government for their unyielding radicalism and wanton destruction of society's institutions. In Burke's view, the traditions of a society should be respected and its institutions altered gradually; a tradition should be eliminated or an institution replaced only if there is a reasonable assurance that the society as a whole will benefit.

Some of this is pre
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Lotz
What first attracted me to Edmund Burke was the endorsement of a friend. “Burke is such a good writer,” he told me, “that he momentarily convinced me that monarchy is a great idea.” A writer good enough to do that, I thought, was worth a read; and since I recently read Thomas Paine’s refutation of Burke’s attack on the French Revolution, The Rights of Man, it seemed like the perfect time to give Burke a go.

But now, after reading this book, I think it is far more than a dazzling piece of rhetoric
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Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
My copy of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France comes with a splendid introductory essay by Conor Cruise O’Brien, onetime academic, politician, journalist and writer. I understand that he also wrote a biography of Burke which his Wikipedia page describes as ‘unorthodox’, though I think he may have used that term himself to describe his interpretation. I’ve not read it so I can’t say if it is or not. What I can say, and say with assurance, is that his essay brings out aspects of ...more
sologdin
A turgid, incoherent, mean-spirited confusion of barely readable proto-teabaggery and ancient dogmatic douchebaggery. Written in the form of a letter to a Frenchman, without captions or other markers of manifest internal organization. Best part of this volume is the academic's lengthy introduction. Text is top tier anti-semitism, with frequent references to "Old Jewry" and Jews in general when he needs a negative example.

He opens by implying that he is unable to congratulate France on its new p
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Edward
Acknowledgements
Introduction
Burke's Prefatory Note


--Reflections on the Revolution in France

Notes
Bibliographical Note
Curriculum Vitae of Edmund Burke
Justin Evans
Jul 18, 2011 Justin Evans rated it liked it
How decayed is contemporary political discourse? So decayed that libertarians and small market conservatives consider Burke to be their forebear, and Marx to be the forebear of Democrats. I imagine that Marx and Burke would much rather have a beer with each other than with any of their lilliputian, soi-disant followers.

So, just to be clear. Burke claims that a society functions best when it has a completely stable set of institutions as its base: civil society, landed property, and a state/chur
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Tunc
Mar 28, 2015 Tunc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1500-1815, philosophy
Mr. Burke has a good writing style and he knows his rhetorical figures. But his views are not my cup of tea. I could give 2 stars but I got so irritated by his rants throughout the book that I decided 1-star is enough. The book can also be known as the Revolution of 1688 versus of 1789 and why the Revolution of 1688 was good but why the latter was not. I don't think one must read the whole book from the beginning to the end in order to comprehend Burke's position against the revolution in France ...more
Taha rabbani
- با این کتاب در مجلهی مهرنامه آشنا شدم. البته، به دلیل علاقهای که به محافظهکاری پیدا کردهام، با نام ادموند برک آشنایی داشتم و وقتی دیدم که مجلهی مهرنامه پروندهای در مورد او کار کرده خیلی خوشحال شدم، هر چند به نظرم رسید که به جز مترجم کتاب، هیچ کدام از نویسندگان مقالات این پرونده آشناییای با محافظهکاری و ادموند برک ندارند و اصلاً داخل موضوع حرف نزدهاند. مترجم کتاب، آقای سهیل صفاری، معلوم بود که به موضوع آگاهی دارند و محافظهکاری را با انقلاب ایران هم تطبیق داده بودند، منتهی اشکال کار ایشان در ترج ...more
Hadrian
Ur-text of modern conservatism. Well, he has a good writing style. I'll give him that.

For all of his self-righteous condemnations, which are so often repeated by conservatives and reactionaries today, I note how so very few of them tend to notice his conspiratorial wailing about international finance and the Jews.
Adam
May 31, 2016 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I'm really not interested in writing much about this here because I've spent a torturous stop-and-start month writing about it as part of my surely valuable and important and not at all worthless academic work and reading much associated material. I mostly wanted to offer something in place of the profoundly embarrassing nonsense I'd written here as an uneducated skimmer four or five years ago, in which I dismissed Edmund Burke (on politics and on the Revolution in France) as akin to conte ...more
Patrice
May 12, 2010 Patrice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, he's a genius. He repeats himself and sometimes I had a hard time staying awake while reading this, but then he'll throw out a few one liners that astound. I finally got tired of writing "Obama" in the margins. I wonder if Obama has read this? Has anyone who loves Obama read this? Every word applies to the US today. Benevolence turns to weakness and then oppression. A strong country must have a strong economy. Following ideology in the face of reality leads to destruction. Taking the advice ...more
Sean Chick
Nov 24, 2013 Sean Chick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The foundational text of Anglo-conservatism. Burke made some good observations. He saw that the French Revolution would end disastrously because its abstract foundations, purportedly rational, ignored the complexities of human nature and society. He advocated central roles for private property, tradition, and 'prejudice' (adherence to values regardless of their rational basis) to give citizens a stake in their nation's social order. He argued for gradual, constitutional reform, not revolution. S ...more
D.N.
Apr 12, 2012 D.N. rated it it was amazing
"...the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever."

The seminal text of contemporary Anglo-American conservatism and a continuing inspiration to classical liberals everywhere. Burke channeled his outrage over the French Revolution into a broadside against the horrors of the barbarous and destructive revolutionaries and the tyranny of their democratic majorities. He instead revered the 1689 Bill of Rights
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Bruce
Jun 27, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this masterful argument, written in 1790 to a (hypothetical?) French correspondent during the years of the French Revolution, Edmund Burke emphasizes the need for continuity and precedent, not entirely without exceptions in extraordinary situations, but respecting the accumulated wisdom over time of traditional ways of governing and making gradual rather than abrupt and dramatic changes. (No change is without unforeseen consequences, and traditional ways of doing things usually are the result ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Whig windbag mounts his defence for inherited privilege and vested interest: roll on Tom Paine, s'all I can say.
Alex Robertson
Feb 17, 2015 Alex Robertson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
the absolute worst
Paula
Aug 05, 2008 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To all Citizens
Recommended to Paula by: Burke quotes that I came across
Shelves: favorite-books
Burke published this book before Napoleon took power, before the bloodbath of the purges, before the French had beheaded their king. Yet, he predicted that all of that would happen. At first blush, I thought that the man must be a prophet. He fortold it all, in the exact order it would occur, and understood exactly why it would happen. Since that first reading, I have read quite a bit of history, and have learned how Burke did it. He was a genius for certain, but his extraordinary insight came f ...more
Geoff Sebesta
An interesting little chunk of history here. Burke wrote a towering condemnation of the constitutional monarchy of Revolutionary France. If you are saying "I didn't know there was a constitutional monarchy in Revolutionary France" that's because it didn't last very long. This is an extremely contemporary account. It does not extend much to either side. So if you want to know a lot about 1790 from the point of view of a British royalist, read this book. But if you want to know about 1791 or any o ...more
Kate Woods Walker
May 09, 2011 Kate Woods Walker rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was not so much the politics--I've over the years read any number of authors with whom I disagree vehemently. It was not so much the use of ornate, complicated language--last year I thoroughly enjoyed Vanity Fair and The Odyssey in epic poem form. Perhaps it was just a bit of that plodding, say-it-once-then-say-it-again (and again and again and again!) way that philosophers have about them. Whatever it was, in whatever combination, it was enough to render this book, for me, as one of the most ...more
Diana
Another of the books I had to read for history class, I'm glad I had to read it for class otherwise I probably wouldn't have finished it. I read many books that some would describe as dry or boring. While not boring, his views on the French Revolution were interesting, the way it was written was a bit dry for me and made it very hard to read. I am happy that my class gave me a reason to read a book that has been on my TBR pile for so long. If you are interested in the history of the French Revol ...more
W. Littlejohn
Jan 17, 2010 W. Littlejohn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burke is eloquent and keenly insightful, offering all kinds of delightfully wise one-liners. His general assessment of the Revolution is certainly right, but with Burke's "Stick with tried and true tradition; don't rock the boat" viewpoint, one can't help but wonder, as a Christian, whether Burke wouldn't have been among those in the Sanhedrin planning Christ's crucifixion, had he lived 1750 years earlier. And that, of course, sets one to wondering about the dangers in the "conservative" school ...more
Tariq
Dec 10, 2009 Tariq rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a liberal/perhaps oakeshott conservative and I think this is just a well written treatise on caution that, at its heart, actually leads to liberalism. I've always believed that true conservatism - not the current bastardization - has liberal ideals and a liberal worldview at heart. It's methods that matter - and not necessarily small steps all the time - but a commitment to facts and truth, along with a need to fully ascertain as much as possible about a situation, this is what helps build a ...more
Adelle
Mar 08, 2012 Adelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read about 100 pages. And I read/browsed a couple of background books on the subject.

Very interesting. Beautifully written. From reading background, I learned that, although Burke DOES make a strong arguement against the French Revolution, that he very skillfully emphasized the positives of the current British system and exagerated--to a degree--the negatives of the revolutionaries in France.

A good deal of what he wrote could be applied to today.
Stan Bebbington
I read this as a balance to "The Rights of Man", Paine's view of the positive impact of revolution on society. Burke essentially suggests caution in promoting change because of the sometimes adverse consequences which may follow and be difficult to rectify. The twentieth century revolutions perhaps better illustrate the point. I would recommend the idea and read both books.
Evelyn Biden
Aug 06, 2011 Evelyn Biden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edmund Burke's Reflections was very much in depth, but a very dense read (Burke's tone is very "pompous plutocrat"). However it certainly gave me a good view of the other side of the coin - the people of the revolution as opposed to the royalty. A fantastic read... but, that being said, I won't be quick to pick this up and read it again.
BHodges
Since Burke composed this thing as a letter there are no section or chapter breaks; Burke just keeps going and going and going and going and this has nothing to do, really, with his actual arguments, which, due to their influence on people who influenced people who influence us, still deserve some attention.
Randal Samstag
Read Mary Wollstencraft's send up of Burke. He proclaimed cautious liberty for the Brits while blessing slavery for the Africans in America. The ultimate conservative / liberal.
Blair
Reflections on the Social Contract

Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions than ruined by too confident a security.

Edmund Burke deeply distrusted the confident rationality of the leaders of the French Revolution. In this book, written before that revolution went disastrously wrong, he essentially predicted the reign of terror and eventual seizure of power by a dictator. Burke’s insights are well worth considering, and should not be entirely dismissed for his real shortcomings or for
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James
Feb 21, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: know-when-read
A by-turns fascinating, prophetic, irritating and frustrating book, Burke's Reflections... has a resonance far beyond the immediate concerns of the revolution he was writing about. It is perhaps the ultimate insight into the conservative mind, with all of its strengths and weaknesses.

Burke is particularly strong on the follies of taking the lessons of history too literally. When writing about the revolutionaries attitude to the church, he points out that evil is not something which appears in t
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An enemy of the people? 2 4 Aug 21, 2015 05:07AM  
  • The Old Regime and the French Revolution
  • The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot
  • Rights of Man, Common Sense and Other Political Writings
  • The Discourses & Other Early Political Writings (Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • The Quest For Community: A Study In The Ethics Of Order And Freedom (Ics Series In Self Governance)
  • The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • Natural Right and History
  • A Conflict Of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles
  • The Principles of Morals and Legislation
  • Virtue and Terror
  • The French Revolution: A History
  • The Discourses
  • The Theory of Moral Sentiments
  • The Coming of the French Revolution
  • On the Republic/On the Laws
  • New Science
  • Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays
  • Witness
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Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who served for many years in the British House of Commons as a member of the Whig party. He is mainly remembered for his support of the American colonies in the dispute with King George III and Great Britain that led to the American Revolution and for his strong opposition to the French Revolution. The l ...more
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“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” 94 likes
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