Intellectual Background of the French Revolution

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Adele Mellen Prize
This work’s contribution to scholarship derives principally from the presentation of sixty-eight texts, written by fifteen authors known collectively as the Idéologues, an influential group in late 18th and early 19th century French thought. Unlike previous studies of the Idéologues which either focused on the group as a whole or on particular individuals, the present works offers the reader direct access to examples of their work; the reader is able to appreciate the different styles of argumentation and nuances of approach and emphasis among writers who present a remarkable unanimity of purpose and outlook. The volume is designed both to stimulate further interest in an area which has in recent years been relatively neglected, but which is essential to an understanding of the transition between the Enlightenment and the social thinkers of the 19th century, and to provide an introduction to the period for those whose specialisation lie elsewhere.


“The Idéologues have not been given the recognition they deserve by posterity, and their essential humanity has often been obscured behind stereotypical images of cold, passionless hyper-rationality . . . Thanks to Dr. Garnham, this situation has now been remedied, and with this remarkably comprehensive anthology we now have at our disposal a coherent and well-presented collection of representative textual extracts which will offer readers an excellent overview of what is meant by Idéologie in a wide range of contexts.” – (from the Foreword) Dr. David Williams, Professor Emeritus, University of Sheffield

“Dr. Garnham’s selection of texts . . . shows the wide differences of style and outlooks within the overriding commonality of purpose and philosophy [of the Idéologue movement]. This anthology shines by its comprehensive coverage, providing a sorely-needed corpus that will promote study of the phenomenon of Idéologie in its true light.” – Dr. H.T. Mason, Professor Emeritus, University of Bristol

“… The texts are astutely chosen and carefully presented, and allow us to compare and contrast in a very accessible way the thoughts of the leading Idéologues on matters of importance … Overall, the book should be attractive to a number of different readerships: to the specialist historian, to the history student exploring the period perhaps for the first time, and to the more general reader seeking information on the Idéologues and their writings. The book now renders this information readily accessible.” – Dr. Geoffrey Bromiley, University of Durham

Table of Contents

Preface: David Williams
1 The Science of Idéologie
2 The Analysis of the Mind
3 Language
4 Political Economy
5 Legislation
6 Religion and Morality
7 Education
Biographical Notes

Other France/French: All Subjects Books