Archive | February 2015
Osman, Julia. Citizen Soldiers and the Key to the Bastille. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
The French army experienced rapid and dramatic change from the 1750s to 1789—and it took the rest of the country with it. Wracked from defeat in the Seven Years’ War, where Amerindian warriors and rugged Canadian militiamen had shown the French army its weaknesses, French officers and philosophers set to work imagining and forging a new kind of army in France: a citizen army, the likes of which had not been seen since the glory days of ancient Greece and Rome. These writers found encouragement for their ideas in the home-grown patriots of the American Revolution and resistance from those who relied on tradition and well-ingrained privilege. By 1789, French officers would declare their citizen army realized, but in the process they would spark a Revolution they could not control.
I think that David Bien guy just may have started something (Interpreting the Ancien Régime collects his major works together in one place).
And then there is this book, which does go back into the Ancien Régime:
Morrissey, Robert. The Economy of Glory: From Ancien Régime France to the Fall of Napoleon. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. Chicago; London: University Of Chicago Press, 2013.
From the outset of Napoleon’s career, the charismatic Corsican was compared to mythic heroes of antiquity like Achilles, and even today he remains the apotheosis of French glory, a value deeply embedded in the country’s history. From this angle, the Napoleonic era can be viewed as the final chapter in the battle of the Ancients and Moderns. In this book, Robert Morrissey presents a literary and cultural history of glory and its development in France and explores the “economy of glory” Napoleon sought to implement in an attempt to heal the divide between the Old Regime and the Revolution. Examining how Napoleon saw glory as a means of escaping the impasse of Revolutionary ideas of radical egalitarianism, Morrissey illustrates the challenge the leader faced in reconciling the antagonistic values of virtue and self-interest, heroism and equality. He reveals that the economy of glory was both egalitarian, creating the possibility of an aristocracy based on merit rather than wealth, and traditional, being deeply embedded in the history of aristocratic chivalry and the monarchy—making it the heart of Napoleon’s politics of fusion. Going beyond Napoleon, Morrissey considers how figures of French romanticism such as Chateaubriand, Balzac, and Hugo constantly reevaluated this legacy of glory and its consequences for modernity. Available for the first time in English, The Economy of Glory is a sophisticated and beautifully written addition to French history.
Anybody else notice how we early modern Europeanists are now paying $90-$100 for books that barely have 200 pages of text?
Makes me want to revise my Ostwald Index: in addition to calculating the ratio of (number of pages)/(years covered) and the well-known (number of pages)/(book price), we should also calculate the ratio of (book price)/(years covered). Just when we now have access to all these sources, we’re unable to put them in our books. <Sigh>