Beyond Condorcet: The Revolutionary Attack on Literature

  • M. Martin Guiney


There were a few founders of the First Republic besides Condorcet who rose to defend literature, however mildly, against the dominant antiliterary forces within the Convention. One of the many stillborn projects for a national education under the First Republic was by ClaudeLaurent-Louis Masuyer, a deputy to the National Convention whose Projet de décret sur l’organisation de l’instruction publique (Proposal for a Decree on the Organization of Public Instruction) appeared in 1793. Masuyer was a left-wing critic of the projects of Condorcet and Romme but, as we will see, there were others who were far more radical. Masuyer still believed that the written word, in the appropriate context, could serve as the foundation for the nation better than any other medium of expression. The edition of his project published by the Imprimerie Nationale contains a letter from Masuyer to his publisher, referring to a trip the two men had made to Venice, and in which he says that national education is important, because words have greater power over people than any other mode of representation:


Primary Education Seventeenth Century Classical Literature Moral Authority Literary Text 
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© M. Martin Guiney 2004

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  • M. Martin Guiney

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