May. 7th, 2014

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“You may write a novel about the French Revolution. You may do it on your head, as the jolly habitual criminals say. The essential principles of this sort of novel are: (1) That the populace of Paris from 1790 to 1794 never had any meals, nor even sat down in a café. They stood about in the street all night and all day, sufficiently sustained by the sight of Blood, especially Blue Blood. (2) All power during the Terror was in the hands of the public executioner and of Robespierre; and these persons were subject to abrupt changes of mind, and frequently redeemed their habit of killing people for no apparent reason by letting them off at the last moment, for no apparent reason either. (3) Aristocrats are of two kinds—the very wicked and the entirely blameless; and both are invariably good-looking. Both also appear rather to prefer being guillotined. (4) Such things as the invasion of France, the idea of a Republic, the influence of Rousseau, the nearness of national bankruptcy, the work of Carnot with the armies, the policy of Pitt, the policy of Austria, the ineradicable habit of protecting one’s property against foreigners, and the presence of persons carrying guns at the Battle of Valmy—all these things had nothing to do with the French Revolution, and should be omitted.”


G.K. Chesterton, "On Historical Novels"
(brought over from montagnarde1793 via tumblr)

This pretty much covers it, I think.

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