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A Natural History of RevolutionViolence and Nature in the French Revolutionary Imagination, 1789-1794$
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Mary Ashburn Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449420

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449420.001.0001

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Revolutionary Like Nature, Natural Like a Revolution

(p.164) Conclusion
A Natural History of Revolution

Mary Ashburn Miller

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter summarizes key themes and presents some final thoughts. It particularly focuses on the relationship between pro-revolutionary violence and nature in revolutionary rhetoric. During the Revolution, spontaneous violence was portrayed as inevitable, natural, and constructive of a new order. By comparing violence to storms and sublime tempests, and by invoking the language of Providence through their future-oriented justifications, the revolutionaries removed human agency from the revolutionary equation. The specific way in which revolutionaries crafted their narrative of violence was unique to the moment of the French Revolution, but rhetorical attempts to cloak responsibility and limit dissent can be found in nearly all moments of crisis.

Keywords:   French Revolution, natural history, natural world, revolutionary France, revolutionary violence

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