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Reflections on the Revolution in France

Reflections on the Revolution in France

EDMUND BURKE
Edited by Frank M. Turner
Darrin M. McMahon
Conor Cruise O’Brien
Jack N. Rakove
Alan Wolfe
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1nq925
  • Book Info
    Reflections on the Revolution in France
    Book Description:

    The most enduring work of its time,Reflections on the Revolution in Francewas written in 1790 and has remained in print ever since. Edmund Burke's analysis of revolutionary change established him as the chief framer of modern European conservative political thought. This outstanding new edition of theReflectionspresents Burke's famous text along with a historical introduction by Frank M. Turner and four lively critical essays by leading scholars.The volume sets theReflectionsin the context of Western political thought, highlights its ongoing relevance to contemporary debates, and provides abundant critical notes, a glossary, and a glossary-index to ensure its accessibility. Contributors to the book examine various provocative aspects of Burke's thought. Conor Cruise O'Brien explores Burke's hostility to "theory," Darrin McMahon considers Burke's characterization of the French Enlightenment, Jack Rakove contrasts the views of Burke and American constitutional framers on the process of drawing up constitutions, and Alan Wolfe investigates Burke, the social sciences, and liberal democracy.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13486-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction Edmund Burke: The Political Actor Thinking
    (pp. xi-xliv)
    FRANK M. TURNER

    Edmund Burke was born in Ireland in 1729. His mother was a Roman Catholic, and his father had conformed to the Protestant Church of Ireland to improve his personal and professional prospects. Edmund Burke attended Trinity College, Dublin, which admitted only Protestant students, and in 1750 entered the Inns of Court in London to receive legal training. His career did not lead him into the law, however, but into literature and politics. In 1756 he publishedA Vindication of Natural Society,followed the next year byA Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the...

  5. REFLECTIONS on THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE, and ON THE PROCEEDINGS IN CERTAIN SOCIETIES IN LONDON RELATIVE TO THAT EVENT: IN A LETTER INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SENT TO A GENTLEMAN IN PARIS.
    (pp. 3-210)
    Edmund Burke

    It may not be unnecessary to inform the reader, that the following Re-flections had their origin in a correspondence between the Author and a very young gentleman at Paris, who did him the honour of desiring his opinion upon the important transactions, which then, and ever since, have so much occupied the attention of all men. An answer was written some time in the month of October, 1789; but it was kept back upon prudential considerations.¹ That letter is alluded to in the beginning of the following sheets. It has been since forwarded to the person to whom it was...

  6. Edmund Burke: Prophet Against the Tyranny of the Politics of Theory
    (pp. 213-232)
    CONOR CRUISE O’BRIEN

    On November 1, 1790, Edmund Burke published his most famous book,Reflections on the Revolution in France. It is important to get the title right because the book is often referred toas Reflections on the French Revolution. The real title much more adequately reveals Burke’s intentions. Burke’s point, in wording the title as he did, was that this was not just a “French Revolution.” Rather, what had commenced in France was a general revolution likely to spread to other countries, as indeed, less than two years after the publication of theReflections,it began to do, through military expansion....

  7. Edmund Burke and the Literary Cabal: A Tale of Two Enlightenments
    (pp. 233-247)
    DARRIN M. MCMAHON

    Edmund Burke was an enlightened man. He believed in the disciplined power of reason, in the tolerance of religious opinion, and in “a slow but well-sustained progress” (143). He was among the century’s greatest defenders of liberty, and a tireless advocate of political rights grounded in concrete institutions, tempered by experience, and sustained by the rule of law. Prior to the French Revolution, Burke adopted a progressive stance towards many of the most pressing issues of his day, backing the American colonists in their revolutionary struggle against the British crown and siding with the indigenous peoples of Ireland and India...

  8. Why American Constitutionalism Worked
    (pp. 248-267)
    JACK N. RAKOVE

    In August 1999, in Portobello Road in London, I found a hand-colored copy of the late eighteenth-century English cartoonist James Gillray’s vicious commentary on constitution-making, French style, which I later happily purchased. Gillray portrays the French Directory, circa 1798, busily drafting, tossing away, and filing all sorts of constitutions. Napoleon sits at the table, quill in hand, while the Abbé Sieyes, perhaps the leading late eighteenth-century theorist of French constitutionalism,¹ mans the pigeonholes in which constitutions are stored to be forgotten (or perhaps retrieved, as occasion demands). Edmund Burke would have appreciated the thought underlying this sketch, even if the...

  9. Democracy, Social Science, and Rationality: Reflections on Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France
    (pp. 268-290)
    ALAN WOLFE

    Edmund Burke wrote hisReflections on the Revolution in Franceat the close of the eighteenth century, but his commentary on that event and the ideas informing it touch some of the most controversial issues in the relationship of the social sciences and democracy at the opening of the twenty-first century. The reason for this surprising situation is that Burke combined his attack on the policies of the French revolutionaries with a polemic against what he regarded as the intellectual foundations of their new departures.

    The outbreak of the French Revolution followed upon the decades when across Europe various thinkers...

  10. Suggested Readings
    (pp. 291-292)
  11. Glossary Index
    (pp. 293-322)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 323-323)