"The common grievance of the revolution”: bread, the grain trade, and political economy in Mary Wollstonecraft’s View of the French Revolution

Packham, Catherine (2014) "The common grievance of the revolution”: bread, the grain trade, and political economy in Mary Wollstonecraft’s View of the French Revolution. European Romantic Review, 25 (6). pp. 705-722. ISSN 1050-9585

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Abstract

This article considers Wollstonecraft’s Historical and Moral View of the French Revolution (1794), and especially its treatment of bread shortages and the march on Versailles of October 1789, in the context of debates over political economy in the 1790s. It argues that in Wollstonecraft’s history, bread (or its absence) denotes a symbolic economy of the impeded circulation of knowledge, provision and improvement. The liberation of the grain trade, which, unlike other contemporary chroniclers of the revolution, Wollstonecraft foregrounds, is thus more than an attempt at economic reform. It marks Wollstonecraft’s larger effort to co-opt a chaotic narrative of revolution to that of improvement, and economic and political liberty. The role of the mob, however, brings to a head the problems faced by philosophical historians such as Wollstonecraft in accommodating commerce to their narratives of improvement, and opens out wider ambivalences over the futures of both political economy and liberty.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR4000 19th century, 1770/1800-1890/1900
Depositing User: Catherine Packham
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2013 08:03
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 01:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/46434

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