The Calendar in Revolutionary France: Perceptions of Time in by Sanja Perovic

By Sanja Perovic

Probably the most strange judgements of the leaders of the French Revolution - and one who had giant sensible in addition to symbolic impression - was once to desert customarily-accepted methods of calculating date and time to create a innovative calendar. The scan lasted from 1793 to 1805, and caused all kinds of questions about the character of time, methods of measuring it and its dating to person, group, communique and artistic lifestyles. This learn lines the process the progressive Calendar, from its cultural origins to its decline and fall. Tracing the parallel tales of the calendar and the literary genius of its writer, Sylvain Maréchal, from the Enlightenment to the Napoleonic period, Sanja Perovic reconsiders the prestige of the French Revolution because the purported 'origin' of modernity, the fashionable adventure of time, and the connection among the mind's eye and political motion.

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Additional info for The Calendar in Revolutionary France: Perceptions of Time in Literature, Culture, Politics

Sample text

Dates are assigned to potential presents, to imagined presents. ’ Introduction 15 also reveal the multiple trajectories between past and future, not all of which materialize at any given time. Any analysis of the calendar’s contribution to the experience of history, therefore, must also acknowledge its fictional life: the way in which events and feelings that, in retrospect and from the outside, reflect a poeticized or fictional idea of time were experienced from the inside in their celebratory, heroic aspect, as if a truly ‘new time’ had indeed arrived.

Chapter 1 recovers the full range of significance associated with calendar time. It situates Maréchal’s invention of a revolutionary calendar with respect to two different understandings of ‘new time’ operant in the eighteenth century: In erudite circles the almanac was hailed as the most archaic or primitive of historical artifacts, capable of recalling the mythic origin of human civilization, while for the wider reading public the popular almanac encapsulated whatever was ‘new’. Chapter 2 contextualizes Sylvain Maréchal socially and intellectually in the radical literary sphere, showing how he combined a mode of critique based on satire with a preference for didactic genres capable of communicating the moral teachings of atheism to a wide, semi-literate audience.

3 For thinkers in the eighteenth century, to posit a common measure was to posit a universal standard that allowed the different cultures and civilizations of human history to be compared. This suggested, firstly, that social organization derived from different ways of measuring astronomical time; secondly, that religious interpretations were derivative expressions of this original measure; thirdly, that by undoing the religious symbolism associated with different calendars, one could return to this originary time.

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