Marx and the French Revolution

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9780226273389: Marx and the French Revolution

Throughout his life Karl Marx commented on the French Revolution, but never was able to realize his project of a systematic work on this immense event. This book assembles for the first time all that Marx wrote on this subject. François Furet provides an extended discussion of Marx's thinking on the revolution, and Lucien Calvié situates each of the selections, drawn from existing translations as well as previously untranslated material, in its larger historical context.

With his early critique of Hegel, Marx started moving toward his fundamental thesis: that the state is a product of civil society and that the French Revolution was the triumph of bourgeois society. Furet's interpretation follows the evolution of this idea and examines the dilemmas it created for Marx as he considered all the faces the new state assumed over the course of the Revolution: the Jacobin Terror following the constitutional monarchy, Bonaparte's dictatorship following the parliamentary republic.

The problem of reconciling his theory with the reality of the Revolution's various manifestations is one of the major difficulties Marx contended with throughout his work. The hesitation, the remorse, and the contradictions of the resulting analyses offer a glimpse of a great thinker struggling with the constraints of his own system. Marx never did elaborate a theory of an autonomous state, but he never stopped wrestling with the challenge to his doctrine posed by late eighteenth-century France, whose changing conditions and successive regimes prompted some of his most intriguing and, until now, unexplored thought.

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About the Author:

François Furet, professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, is also professor of history at the University of Chicago. English translations of his many works include Interpreting the French Revolution and, published by the University of Chicago Press, In the Workshop of History.

Language Notes:

Text: English, French (translation)

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Furet, Francois
Published by University of Chicago Press (1988)
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