Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution

Francis Phillips has reviewed a new book on Robespierre, found on Mercator.Net

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution
A detailed and compelling portrait of the architect of the Reign of Terror.
George Bernanos observed that the pursuit of justice can lay the world to waste. Such an observation seems peculiarly apt for a study of Robespierre; he pursued justice with a single-minded passion and the result was the Terror that grew out of the French Revolution. Ruth Scurr, who teaches at Cambridge University, tries to befriend as well as to understand him; a difficult task. As her title suggests, there was something inhuman in Robespierre's pitiless incorruptibility -- the "sea-green Incorruptible" as Carlyle called him -- when compared with his fellow revolutionaries, such as Danton, Desmoulins and Marat.

In seeking to know Robespierre, we are forced to note the world he laid waste around him.

For the French, Robespierre is a problematic figure. In Arras, where he was born on 6 May 1758 and where he practised law until 1789, the year the Revolution began, there are no public memorials to him and few souvenirs. To his enemies (and posterity) he was the inventor of the Terror; to his friends he was a man of inflexible principle, devoted to the people and the Republic. There is no common ground. The author has produced a dispassionate yet sympathetic study that goes some way to penetrating the mystery surrounding this strange individual.
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Thanks and a tip of the beret to Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ,
de Brantigny

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