Reflections on the Revolution in France (Penguin Classics)

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9780140432046: Reflections on the Revolution in France (Penguin Classics)
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‘To make a revolution is to subvert the ancient state of our country; and no common reasons are called for to justify so violent a proceeding’

 

Burke’s seminal work was written during the early months of the French Revolution, and it predicted with uncanny accuracy many of its worst excesses, including the Reign of Terror. A scathing attack on the revolution’s attitudes to existing institutions, property and religion, it makes a cogent case for upholding inherited rights and established customs, argues for piecemeal reform rather than revolutionary change – and deplores the influence Burke feared the revolution might have in Britain. Reflections on the Revolution in France is now widely regarded as a classic statement of conservative political thought, and is one of the eighteenth century’s great works of political rhetoric.

Conor Cruise O’Brien’s introduction examines the contemporary political situation in England and Ireland and its influence on Burke’s point of view. He highlights Burke’s brilliant grasp of social and political forces and discusses why the book has remained so significant for over two centuries.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Rethinking the Western Tradition Series

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The French Revolution is a defining moment in world history, and usually it has been first approached by English-speaking readers through the picture painted of it by Edmund Burke. Reflections on the Revolution in France is a classic work in a range of fields from history through political science to literature, and securely holds its place among the canon of “great books.” Yet its meaning is still contested and often misunderstood, equally by those who wish to admire or to denigrate Burke for his present-day relevance. This edition aims to locate Burke once again in his contemporary political and intellectual setting. Alone among recent versions, it reprints the text of the first edition of the Reflections, and shows how Burke amended it as his knowledge of the Revolution deepened. It is certain to become the standard edition for scholars and students alike.
The editor’s Introduction is much more extensive than that of any previous edition. It situates the Reflections in Burke’s life and the development of his ideas, the history of English political thought, the debate about the French Revolution, and the debate the book itself inspired. But the Introduction is more than a compendium of information; it is a thoughtful, coherent interpretation of Burke and his book. The editor’s notes are also fuller than those of any previous edition, glossing many literary and biblical allusions missed by previous editors. He also supplies an extended note on the text, a biographical guide, and a bibliography, helpfully presented in discursive form.

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