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The French Revolution

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  365 ratings  ·  40 reviews
First written and published in 1837, Carlyle initially was asked to write this account by his overworked friend John Stuart Mill. Taking the commission to heart, Carlyle proceeded to write a historical masterpiece, combining a scrupulous consideration for facts with a unique style of writing. Rather than a detached account of this turbulent time, Carlyle uses poetic prose ...more
Paperback, 484 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by (first published 1837)
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William West
There's so much to hate about this “classic” that I almost feel a little queasy saying that, at the end of the day, I do think its a great work... of a sort.

Carlyle was a nineteenth century “liberal,” which then as now means basically a conservative. He was thus horrified by the French Revolution's “excesses”- both the, I would say, excess of random carnage it eventually gave way to, and its attempts at legitimately egalitarian reform. To his credit, Carlyle makes absolutely no attempt at objec
Despite its age, now nearly two hundred years old (it was published in 1837), and its idiosyncratic style, Thomas Carlyle’s history remains an important insight into the French Revolution. For the reader desiring a unique perspective on the event and a unique example of historiography, this is a book not to be missed.

The story of the writing of the book is itself of interest. Carlyle’s friend John Stuart Mill was commissioned to write a history of the French Revolution but was overwhelmed with o
Carlyle is a verbal riot, an elegant, organized, vivid compound sentence of a riot swarming over the personalities and events of the Revolution. According to Carlyle, Voltaire once demanded of his countrymen, “What have you invented?” Carlyle replies for them, “The Art of Insurrection. It was an art needed in these last singular times: an art, for which the French nature, so full of vehemence, so free from depth, was perhaps of all others the fittest.” Carlyle says little directly but few things ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mar 20, 2014 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as i-want-money  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Nathan Jerpe
Get this. From the Intro ::

"Yet today, Carlyle is rarely read by nonspecialists and only occasionally appears on reading lists within the academy. The causes are many, not least of which is that Carlyle is one of the most allusive and innovative of English prose writers, a kind of proto-Joyce in his incessant verbal coinages, conflation of ancient myth and modern actuality, his labyrinthine narrative strategies and gift for impersonation. It is impossible to 'speed-read' Carlyle, any more than M
If you're looking for a humdrum, typical history book, what Carlyle would refer to as a "Dryasdust" (dry-as-dust) History, this is certainly not for you. It contains probably the most poetic prose ever written and is infused with so much of Carlyle's emotion and philosophy. On just about every page you'll find overt or vague references that require a deep knowledge of Roman, Greek and European history and literature to properly appreciate what is being said. A very good understanding of the Fren ...more
An astonishing piece of work especially when you consider the circumstances of its writing. Apparently Dickens kept it by his side when writing TO2C...I can believe it. Not a book I would consult for dry facts, but unbeatable for sense of rising terror and loss of control. All you people with this on your to-read list - do it now.
Nikolay Nikiforov
Мои представления об французской революции были, как выяснилось в процессе чтения, еще более поверхностными, чем я думал.
Карлейль, во-первых, в простоте не напишет и слова, во-вторых, ожидает от читателя знаний не базовых, а основательных.
Многие фразы нужно несколько раз перечитать, чтобы понять, что они говорят, после чего нужно обращаться к википедии, чтоб разобраться о чем речь.
Если говорить о познавательной стороне вопроса, то теперь о французской революцию знаю на порядок больше, чем зна
Regardless of a society's state of literary development there are always, I'd assume, new and different ways of addressing its literary possibilities, some fruitful and some dead ends. People experiment and some succeed. The attempts of others fall by the wayside for whatever reason. And so we come to Thomas Carlyle, offspring of a Scots peasant family who wound up exploding his way through British literary life in the second quarter of the 19th Century.

It wouldn't be easy to identify Carlyle's
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THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. (1837). Thomas Carlyle. **.
I often wonder how certain books and authors manage to stay on the list of classics throughout the years, in spite of their being essentially unreadable by most present-day readers. This work is an example of one of them. Carlyle was enormously influential during his lifetime. His opinions were sought after by the intelligentsia of the time. He left a considerable body of work behind him, most of which are agonizing reading for our modern readers
Darran Mclaughlin
I was so sure I was going to like Carlyle that I'm still slightly shocked by how much I didn't. A Scottish, Victorian intellectual with a fascination with German culture and celebrity fans like Mill, Dickens, Emerson, Whitman and George Elliot? Sounds fantastic. Unfortunately I absolutely hated his writing style. It was so archaic, knotty and deliberately difficult that it was a bore and a chore to read. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy complex, unusual and difficult writing styles, such as Robert Bu ...more
This book is not what I expected. I was truly interested in finding out about the French Revolution. Instead of presenting facts, the author chose to use very flowery, Romantic language to describe everything. People were referred to by nicknames, so half of the time, I didn't know who he was referring to. There were so many metaphors and French words that my Kindle couldn't translate. I'm not sure why I read the whole book. It seemed to take me forever. I will probably have to read another book ...more
Richard Epstein
It is said that there is valuable stuff concealed in here, but no one bloviates like Carlyle. I believe there are people who have read this book straight through, cover to cover, beginning to end, but I doubt I've ever met one. Such a reader would require infinite patience and infinite time and nothing else to do -- no carpets to vacuum, no dogs to walk, no sestinas to write, then discard, because trying to write a sestina is a fool's errand. In short, only a god could do it, but a god wouldn't ...more
I was looking for a good book on the French Revolution to fill in some holes in my knowledge. What I received was a slightly tortuous journey into a hybrid of Shakespeare and Boetius. Is this a classic work of prose? Absolutely. Does it deserve to be listed with great historical works a la Gibbon or Plutarch? Sure. Is it a good book to pick up and read to learn about the French revolution? Absolutely NOT. The prose is painful without any of the graceful utterances of Shakespeare. I read the fir ...more
Miles Winston
I truly enjoyed this, particularly the last few chapters. It is more than a mere "history" and it is more than a mere "epic" to me. For the history is so eloquently arranged, so vividly cast. And the poetry is not of "formula" but of "reality," which to me makes the most beautiful poetry of all. As Carlyle is quoted in John Rosenberg's introduction, in a line which says it best: "It is part of my creed that the only Poetry is History, could we tell it right."
James Spencer
A fascinating, wonderful way to tell history. There is nothing I know of that is like it. It can be confusing if you are not already familiar with the basic outline of the French Revolution but if you are, this is telling of the tale in the most literate and thinking terms.
Craig Bryson
Epic, poetic and some times unreadable, this book should be attempted by any serious reader at least once.
I went away with more questions than answers, but that's okay- I know where to keep looking for more information..Carlyle gives us lots of clues.
Completely absurd. The writing style might be dense and difficult, but the only thing you really get out of it is pretension. It's so pompous it's actually laughable. Just check out sullivan's pictures, they're great.
The most fictional non-fiction book ever written about the French Revolution. Carlyle's prophetic voive save his history from the morbidity of the written text and presents history in the form of a drama.

The reader is constantly drawn into the history and reminded that what he reads is actually a story of a fictile world. The historical charachters in the hisory become mere puppets in the hand of a master dramatist and are ordered who to act and react. The reader is also addressed directly and g
Mick Maye
Beautifully written story of the French revolution that covers the years from the Bastille to the Vendemiaire. A must read, very long but the pages just flow by.
I don't think this should have been the first book I read on the subject.
Sean Chick
They don't write them like this anymore and that is a shame.
Charles Gonzalez
I gave it 5 because it was one of the most original books I have read; that is was written over 100 years ago makes its adventurous and passionate approach to the subject even more amazing. As other reviewers have stated, this is not the book for a blow by blow history of the French Revolution....don't think Carlyle intended it to be; then he was writing about the the biggest political revolution of his time, less than 30 years in the past, as recent as if a writer today was to write about the R ...more
Not entirely historically accurate, not entirely unbiased, but then again Dante spent years of his life aligning his contemporaries in a strict hierarchy of punishment/reward. The comparisons often made between the two men are just: The French Revolution is nothing short of epic, opening in the last days of Louis XV and ending with Napoleon's brutal decision to end the 1795 uprising by leveling the church that housed hopelessly outgunned royalists who wished to surrender. This "whiff of grapesho ...more
Ken Gloeckner
Incredible prose and an incredible story make for a great read. This book was stunning. Apparently Charles Dickens read it several times while writing his "Tale of Two Cities"! I know Carlyle was a seriously flawed person, but was an enormously talented writer. Of course, there's a deal of propaganda involved in whole Carlyle narrates the events but still worth a once through regardless.
Dicken's "Tale of Two Cities" lured me towards Thomas Carlyle's three volume text on the revolution and I'm glad to have finally read it. Carlyle's early history of the French Revolution is told in an unexpected mixture of narrative styles that provide a range of insights, from the lofty heights of retrospective analysis to the visceral first-person accounts of various proponents of the event. The writing style, though frequently archaic, is often poetic and beautiful, and environs the chronolog ...more
Когда-нибудь я заставлю себя это дочитать, но в первый наскок не осилила из-за очень высокопарного и субъективного языка. Нужно всё-таки иметь базовые (а может и не очень базовые) знания о французской революции до того, как читать эту книгу. Иначе потеряешься в ней.
Bobby George
Madeline Gins once told me she would read Carlyle to help her write.
Mike Fanning
A little difficult to read but a true classic
Kate Naughton
One of the great mad books of the 19th century. You can have Nietzsche, I'll take the mad jock. The first volume was burnt by a housemaid who thought it was waste paper, cf Blackadder!

A conservative's celebration of a black mass, written in the present tense.

Screenwriters take note: this is what immediate looks like.
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Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer. was born in the village of Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, eldest child of James Carlyle, stonemason, and Margaret (Aitken) Carlyle. The father was stern, irascible, a puritan of the puritans, but withal a man of rigid probity and strength of character. The mother, too, was of the Scottish earth, and Thomas' education was begun at ho ...more
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“But figure his thought, when Death is now clutching at his own heart-strings, unlooked for, inexorable! Yes, poor Louis, Death has found thee. No palace walls or life-guards, gorgeous tapestries or gilt buckram of stiffest ceremonial could keep him out; but he is here, here at thy very life-breath, and will extinguish it. Thou, whose whole existence hitherto was a chimera and scenic show, at length becomest a reality: sumptuous Versailles bursts asunder, like a dream, into void Immensity; Time is done, and all the scaffolding of Time falls wrecked with hideous clangour round thy soul: the pale Kingdoms yawn open; there must thou enter, naked, all unking'd, and await what is appointed thee! Unhappy man, there as thou turnest, in dull agony, on thy bed of weariness, what a thought is thine! Purgatory and Hell-fire, now all-too possible, in the prospect; in the retrospect,--alas, what thing didst thou do that were not better undone; what mortal didst thou generously help; what sorrow hadst thou mercy on? Do the 'five hundred thousand' ghosts, who sank shamefully on so many battle-fields from Rossbach to Quebec, that thy Harlot might take revenge for an epigram,--crowd round thee in this hour? Thy foul Harem; the curses of mothers, the tears and infamy of daughters? Miserable man! thou 'hast done evil as thou couldst:' thy whole existence seems one hideous abortion and mistake of Nature; the use and meaning of thee not yet known. Wert thou a fabulous Griffin, devouring the works of men; daily dragging virgins to thy cave;--clad also in scales that no spear would pierce: no spear but Death's? A Griffin not fabulous but real! Frightful, O Louis, seem these moments for thee.--We will pry no further into the horrors of a sinner's death-bed.” 3 likes
“Hunger whets everything, especially Suspicion and Indignation.” 1 likes
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