lovelycudy: (Default)
[personal profile] lovelycudy
I gave it one star because Scurr is a good writer: her prose and style are good and easy to read.

And that is the only positive thing I can say about this book.

The author claims she wants to write an unbiased, non-partisan biography of Robespierre. And the title led me to believe that the core of the book was the concept of virtue and the consequences it had for Robespierre personally and for the Revolution as a whole. But what I found is a work that makes no attempt to make true of its objectives. Scurr sustains and repeats the most traditional and reactionary readings of Robespierre's life trough the abundant and uncritical use of Thermidorian propaganda as sources. Proyart, to name one, is quoted without reservation while sources favourable to Robespierre (mainly Charlotte's memoirs) are doubted. The most striking example is, I think, is the fact that Scurr reproduces the description of Robespierre's rooms filled with paintings, busts and engravings of himself; but this account appears only after 9 Thermidor and by hostile authors. And yet the author does not provide this simple qualification.

Too many things that add to the obvious bias of the author and that made this book a thoroughly unpleasant experience. I would tell anyone who is interested in knowing about Robespierre, his life, his ideals and his role in the Revolution to skip this book completely.

August 2014

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