French Historical Studies, August 2022

Posted in journal articles by Editor on October 23, 2022

In the latest issue of French Historical Studies:

David Gilks, “Civilization and Its Discontents: Quatremère de Quincy and Directorial Political Culture,” French Historical Studies 45.3 (2022): 481–510.

This article reinterprets Antoine Quatremère de Quincy’s Letters on the Plan to Abduct the Monuments of Italy (1796). In response to official justifications that seizing cultural patrimony was France’s civilizing mission, Quatremère argued that civilization required all nations to leave Rome intact and respect eighteenth-century conventions. The article shows how he attempted to make his work acceptable to republican readers by using a language uncharacteristic of his other writings and by mimicking the concept of a singular and secular civilization that was central to the post-Thermidorian Republic’s identity. The Letters was part of the broader strategy of the royalist Clichy club to make republicans question the Republic. However, informed contemporaries saw through his conceit: they discerned an attack on the Directory in his description of how the papacy nourished and protected the civilization but endangered it in practice.

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