Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution is a landmark of literary history. Conceived not as a dry recounting of facts, but as a personal, vivid, direct and dramatic encounter with the turbulent times of revolutionary France, it is in fact an extended dramatic monologue in which we meet not only the striking personalities and events of the time, but the equally striking personality and mind of Thomas Carlyle himself.
In this, the second volume of the series, we live out the course of the French Revolution from the aftermath of the fall of the Bastille to the insurrection of August 1792, which effectively brought the reign of Louis XVI to an end.
Thomas Carlyle's writing is a true challenge to the reader and the listener. He does not write in the calm, objective, matter-of-fact style of a modern historian; quite the contrary! He writes as if he were there, a witness to history, passionately involved with the events that he makes unfold before our eyes. He gives his rare mastery of the outer reaches of the English language full scope, challenging us to grasp not only his complex thoughts, but his intricate manner of expressing them. Grappling with his mind and with the events of the Revolution at the same time is a powerful challenge for any reader or listener.
This book is a treat for the ears. It's like fine wine or anything else that needs intelligence, experience, and taste to be appreciated. I had to buy the hardbound copy so I would be able to read it over and over at leisure. The book is worth listening to for its rich range of expression and subtle humor even if you don't want to learn about the revolution, but having said that it is a first class description of those momentous events and renders them in a way that your dry dates-and-events histories could never rise to. A must for any student of history with a literary bent.
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