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Reflections on the Revolution in France: And on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to That Event (English Library) Paperback – 5 Apr 1968


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; first penguin edition edition (5 April 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432046
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Providing a fresh perspective on a much-studied classic, Clark's edition is both innovative and informative. The first modern edition to reprint the text of the first edition of the Reflections, it brings readers closer to the historic document... This volume should become the starting point for serious study of the Reflections." - F. P. Lock, Queen's University " ... [Reflections on the Revolution in France] will help both the student and the advanced scholar to engage with one of the founding texts of modernity, as well as providing, in its own right, an interpretive contribution to Burke studies." - History of Political Thought --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Edmund Burke (1729 - 97) was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1750 he entered the MIddle Temple in London but soon left law for literature. His Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the Beautiful influenced many writers of the Romantic period. An MP in the Whig Party, he championed the cause of Catholic emancipation and was involved in the governing India.

Conor Cruise O'Brien is Emeritus Professor of the University of Dublin. In 1955 he was Counsellor in Paris and head of the United Nations section on Ireland from 1956 - 1960. He has been a professor at NYU, St Catherine's College, Oxford and at Dartmouth College in the USA. He has written on subjects including Ireland, Israel and the French Revolution.


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You are pleased to call again, and with some earnestness, for my thoughts on the late proceedings in France. Read the first page
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Excalibur on 2 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edmund Burke's tour de force, demolishing Jacobin upstarts and naive, utopian aristocrats alike, is a witty, intelligent and lively work which has rightly gone down in history as a seminal conservative text.

These reflections were first published in 1790, around a year after the Revolution began; before the monarchy had been overthrown and before the King was executed; before the Reign of Terror began which would result in great bloodshed. Burke was initially dismissed as an alarmist reactionary by many but as the Revolution culminated in the grotesque abuses of the guillotine and the rise to power of a military dictator, which he predicted in this text, Burke was hailed as a prophet and was vindicated in his wise warnings.

Without regard to fashionable and trendy abstract theories Burke defended prejudice, tradition and custom against the 'enlightened' intellectuals who thought they ought to rule in place of those born in the purple. Burke claimed that society is a contract, although a contract between those who are living, those who are dead and those who are yet to be born. Those who are alive must not posses dictatorial powers over the majority constituents of this contract, the dead and the unborn, but must work in accordance with traditions and be aware that they are but trustees of an inheritance which they must pass on to the next generation.

For Burke prejudices were the "bank and capital of nations and of ages" which make habits out of virtues. Prejudices give people instinctive responses in moments of decision and do not leave people hesitating in an emergency.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Derek Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
"Reflections" is ostensibly a tract attacking the French Revolution of 1789 but in reality its importance is its case for conservatism. The polemical nature of the book means that it is not a systematic analysis so one has to search for Burke's conservative principles.

One of his most important principles is "prescription", by which the possession of property and authority are given (at least some) legitimacy by the passage of time. Burke did not oppose all change but believed that if things are going well then they are best left alone. He wrote "A state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation", but believed that change should be for "proved abuses". Burke saw society as organic, as a "partnership" bridging all generations. In typical Burkean language he wrote that citizens "should approach the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude." As in any natural organism change must be slow and gradual. He observed that "I do not like to see anything destroyed, any void produced in society." He was, of course, opposed to abstract theories that he thought at best irrelevant and at worst dangerous. Society, thought Burke, needed not abstract reasoning but practical and pragmatic statesmen. He was even more opposed to revolution for it leads to excesses and unintended results.

Not surprisingly Burke stresses the importance of codes of conduct, custom and what he called "prejudice". He writes of the "pleasing illusions" that constitute "the decent drapery of life". These "antient opinions and rules of life" include politeness, deference, the chivalrous treatment of women, the "spirit of a gentleman" and the "spirit of religion".
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Edmund Burke is considered by many to be the first to expound upon Conservative principles. And this book provides plenty of justification for that view. Burke's "reflections" are especially potent since they not only provide a common sense defense of Conservative values but allow one to examine the consequences of ignoring those values, vis-à-vis the French Revolution. Burke defends the stability that comes with constancy and aged wisdom and derides those that embrace variability and experimentation as virtues. However, the reader is not left with the impression that Burke is opposed to all change. Quite the contrary. Recognizing the fallibility of Man, Burke fully expects that there is to be changes in our habits and prejudices as part of the normal course of human endeavors in order to improve upon established wisdom. But he forthrightly rejects the wholesale dismissal of knowledge and wisdom accumulated over vast periods of time. And he holds no punches in castigating the French Revolutionaries who were so presumptuous and arrogant as to count their vernacular wisdom wiser than that of all generations preceding them. He uses example after example of failures in the French experiment to demonstrate the futility and imbecility of starting afresh instead of building upon an existing foundation. This book is an absolute must read for conservatives.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 2 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
Edmund Burke has written a powerful and eloquent argument against the revolution in France and its instigators. It is easy to be swayed by Burke's rich and dramatic use of language. He shows a deep knowledge of both contemporary history, European events, British History, Ancient History and languages. He does not only decry the excesses of the French Revolution; he is prepared to credit it with its gains although lamenting the manner of their achievement. Further, he is willing and very able to put forward an alternative to the Revolution. This is grounded in the British Constitution. However, it isn't merely patriotic zeal that causes this exaltation of the British way of doing things: it is backed with a knowledge of human nature, as constituted, and an awareness of the limits of life itself. For those who are Romantic, Burke's philosophy is not comforting. There is no progress for the vast majority of mankind. They are to live harsh lives where effort remains unrewarded except by the thought of heavenly compensation.
He is more clear sighted than many of his contemporary pro-Royalist/Conservative writers: he sees that it is the myth of Monarchy that is important, not the Monarchy itself. He sees the world of illusion fading to the detriment of mankind. And he sees exactly who is taking power - the Calculator, the Agent, the Accountant and the Man of Industry. There is a limited attraction for these people in his writings. He does not believe the world they can build will be one where the old values can exist (curious why contemporary Conservatives allude to him when he would be opposed to their world of markets and free trade). Interestingly, he foresees the weakening of human values in their entirety.
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