20 January 2010

Books: Critics of democracy in Victorian England and post-Revolution France

Minnesota Archive Editions has made available again a book that was first published in 1938: Benjamin E. Lippincott, "Victorian Critics of Democracy: Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, Stephen, Maine, Lecky":


From the back cover: "Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible to scholars, students, researchers, and general readers. Rich with historical and cultural value, these works are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. The books offered through Minnesota Archive Editions are produced in limited quantities according to customer demand".

Review: "The Victorian 'literature of protest' has all too often been regarded as coming merely from the left. To be sure, every manual of English literary history has something to say about the 'Victorian prophets' attack on democracy.' But it has remained for [Lippincott] to analyse with unusual keenness and balance of judgment the role played by Carlyle, Ruskin, and Matthew Arnold in the nineteenth-century struggles with democratic dogma. His examination of James Fitzjames Stephen, and of Maine and Lecky, gives his book exceptional richness, since Lecky and Stephen are undeservedly neglected in many discussions". (Charles Frederick Harrold, "Modern Philology", 1939)

Benjamin E. Lippincott was Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

Out of print, but maybe available in libraries, is Jack Hayward's "After the French Revolution: Six Critics of Democracy and Nationalism"
(Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991).

Description: "The French Revolution has generally been recognized as the starting point of modernity. It is the source, in their modern guise, of the founding myths of the nation as the basis of political community and democracy and as the only legitimate way of managing political affairs. While the Revolution, narrowly defined, has been exhaustively denounced and eulogized, its antecedents and more especially its legacies, have been neglected. [...]

"Six of the critics of what became the predominant tradition in France are considered in turn, ranging from the extreme Right to the extreme Left. Maistre represents the reactionary, theocratic Right, while Saint-Simon represents the modernizing industrial Right. Liberalism is advocated by the constitutionalist Constant and To[c]queville, the champion of the decentralisation. On the Left, Proudhon is the exponent of pluralist and libertarian socialism, while Blanqui embodies the recourse to revolutionary dictatorship."

Jack Hayward is a Research Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Hull and a Fellow of the British Academy.

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