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Words as Weapons: Romantic Literature and the Revolution

Jean Bloch expounds the new thinking which sees the Revolution as a catalytic period for literature, fusing Enlightenment philosophies with the fervour engendered by a tumultuous time.

For far too long the literature of the French Revolution was written off as mediocre and of little interest. Seen as continuing already established literary traditions and degenerating ultimately into propaganda, it seemed to halt rather than aid what was presented as the gradual transition from the Enlightenment to romanticism. Such an approach was linked to the long-standing tendency to place emphasis on imaginative and creative writing, discounting areas like journalism and oratory, which had prospered during the Revolution. The significant movement was held to be the gradual waning of classicism and the emergence of Romanticism.

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