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New Left Review 88, July-August 2014

michael christofferson


François Furet looms large among the most influential intellectuals of late twentieth-century France. [1] Christophe Prochasson, François Furet: les chemins de la mélancolie, Éditions Stock: Paris 2013, €24, paperback 558 pp, 978 2 2340 6371 6 His work as a historian of the French Revolution was aimed squarely against the prevailing socio-economic, Marxian interpretation, with its celebration of the Jacobin Republic. This he replaced, in Penser la Révolution française (1978), with a narrative in which a Manichean revolutionary ideology led almost inevitably to the Terror, which was seen as a prelude to twentieth-century ‘totalitarianism’. Furet, who famously asserted that ‘the French Revolution is over’, wanted to put an end to the revolutionary culture of the French left, which he held responsible for its dalliance with Bolshevism. By the late 1980s he had largely succeeded in this goal, and was duly crowned by the media as ‘king’ of the Revolution’s bicentennial year.

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Michael Scott Christofferson, ‘A Mind of the Left?’, NLR 88: £3

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