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By M. O. Grenby

The French Revolution sparked an ideological debate that introduced Britain to the threshold of its personal revolution within the 1790s. As radicals grew to become to the writing of "Jacobin" fiction, the phobia of uprising caused conservatives to put in writing novels. this can be the 1st e-book to check the level and diversity of Anti-Jacobin fiction. in addition to deciding upon an exceptional variety of those novels and contemplating what they include, M.O. Grenby investigates why they have been written, specially via girls, and why they proved to be so well known.

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This is a question to which I shall be returning at the end of the chapter. Before that, I shall give a general outline of the ways in which, and the purposes for which, revolution – both of the ‘real’ French (and Irish) variety, and its more abstract analogues – was used in fiction. Through this, the nature of the relationship between representation and didacticism may begin to become a little more distinct. Even if the representation of the French Revolution was not always used for a deliberately anti-Jacobin purpose, it was certainly not a weapon that British Jacobin novelists chose to take up to any significant extent.

In certain respects, Sayer was claiming to depict accurately events in France – a note maintains that ‘the Author has endeavoured throughout, to adhere as strictly as possible to French names and manners of expression’ – but the sources for his history, though we cannot be sure of course, seem to come more from his imagination than any creditable account. This was exactly the same method employed by Burke, Sayer’s stated model, who had furnished his Reflections with fictionalised illustrations.

Whilst Smith had depicted real events, which she had obviously researched with some care, Sayer uses imaginary incidents to fulfil his purpose, and a very obvious purpose it is. The festivities quickly plunge into violence and riot, our hero is killed by the mob, our heroine is sexually harassed by their leader and soon dies having heard the lone villager, faithful to the memory of the kind aristocrats, tell the tale of the outrages of the mob. As if impelled by some terrible force, the mob had converged on the chateau, and in his description Sayer provides one of the best, as well as the earliest, portraits of the revolutionary crowd: When arrived we found a great multitude already assembled and committing every possible excess.

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