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Reflections on the Revolution in France (English Library) Reprint Edition

27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140432046
ISBN-10: 0140432043
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Editorial Reviews


"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 alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Library of Liberal Arts title. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: English Library
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (December 16, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 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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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David Marshall on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
In Life of Johnson, Boswell brings up the name of Johnson's one-time sparing partner, Edmund Burke. Johnson, being quite sick, and not given to easy praise, admits, "Yes, Burke is an extraordinary man." Boswell tries to coax a more quotable reply, and Johnson, who thought argument the sole end of conversation, finally noted, "That fellow calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now, it would kill me."
Reflections on the Revolution in France should not be a killer read for most, but is difficult in spots. Many of the sentences are long and complex, written in an age when thought and rhetoric had not yet been corroded by sound bites. Some of the topics may seem a bit obscure now. But this is undoubtedly a great book, by a great man, thinking lucidly and passionately about great issues. It is indeed a work of great intellectual power. At the same time, it is also a work of moral passion, balance, and foresight, often eloquently and sometimes simply expressed.
Much of it is also remarkably timely. Not only did Burke seem to anticipate the extremes to which the French Revolution was tending, the great Marxist revolutions of our times also often greatly resemble his remarks. "It is a suffient motive to destroy an old scheme of things, because it is an old one." "Kings will be tyrants from policy when subjects are rebels from principle." "Criminal means once tolerated are soon preferred. . . Justifying perfidy and murder for the public benefit, public benefit will soon become the pretext, and perfidy and murder the end." Examples could be multiplied. Reading the book, the subsequent history not only of communism, but also of progressive social cults in the West, becomes more comprehensible.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Khemprof TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Reflections on the Revolution in France written by Edmund Burke and Edited with an introduction by Conor Cruise O'Brien the Penguin Classics version is the best version of this unparalleled powerful work. The reason for this is that included in this version you have an introduction that gets the reader upto speed. For Burke is without doubt the foremost conservative British political thinkers of his time, (1729-1797).
There is a biographical note on Edmund Burke right after the introduction giving the reader a historical perspective into who is Edmund Burke and why his advice was sought after with regard to the French Revolution and the consequenses of its following. Unlike the United States, France had an established entrenched government, so any change in form of government meant that an upheavel of property, religion, and traditional French institutions would have to occur. Underlying the French Revolution was the latent Catholic Cause which being Irish Burke had a good deal of sympathy.
Burke's Reflections written in 1790 was a really good prediction of the events pretaining to the Reign of Terror experienced by the French. This edition of Edmund Burke's "Reflection on the Revolution in France" has well explained footnotes further giving the reader a much greater appreciation for the practical wisdom of Burke. Burke was a man who would've rather seen a gradual or piecemeal reform as opposed to a revolution as he was sceptical in his belief in expediency.
Another plus for this edition, in contrast to the others available, is that there is a well appointed "Notes" at the end of Burke's writing. Also, at the very end of this book you'll have a recommended reading list, which for those inclined is indispensable. By far this edition is well worth reading and great care has been given to bring this important work in a form that is easily understandable, with enough detail to make it interesting reading.
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33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This version (Penguin Classics) has a wonderfully informative(81 pages) introduction that will bring anyone not familiar with Edmund Burke or his writings up to par.
Edmund Burke originally wrote what became "Reflections" as a letter in response to a young Parisian man who sought his support. He later went back to elaborate upon the original letter and wrote this book, knowing then that the book would be read by many more than the simple few that would read the letter.
In "Reflections on the Revolution in France", Edmund Burke lays down his arguments against several items on which he disagreed with the National Assembly leaders responsible for the French Revolution. The basis for most of his concerns was that he saw the French to be tossing aside all the prior wisdom and knowledge gained throughout history, simply to erect a radical, new government. It is amazing in retrospect to see how uncannily Burke predicted the Reign of Terror that would follow shortly. Thomas Paine, a hero of the US Revolution, who then went to France to aid in their revolt, angrily chastized Burke and this book, in Paine's "The Rights of Man." But while Paine gave many valid points in his book (I recommend it and this one for the full spectrum of the debate), he clearly ended up on the wrong side of this argument.
Another thing I found so amazing about reading this book was how Burke's warnings to the French are still almost entirely applicable today. One of my favorite passages, Burke writing about the general public, is something I would love to personally deliver to every modern-day political pollster (not to mention Bill Clinton & Co.): "A perfect democracy is therefore the most shameless thing in the world...
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Reflections on the Revolution in France (English Library)
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