The Melancholy of the Revolution: Maine de Biran Facing Napoleon’s Hundred Days

Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750-1850 book series (WCS)


The essay examines the reaction by French élites to the Hundred Days by focusing on one specific case: that of the philosopher Maine de Biran. Biran’s diary presents an account of what was a profoundly traumatic experience for those who had opposed Napoleon’s rise and had supported the restoration of the monarchy. The political and philosophical significance of this affair is interpreted through the grammar of “melancholy.” By comparing his own diseased body with the social body of the revolution, Biran offers us a picture of what the Hundred Days meant for a part of French high society: the impotence of reason and will embodied by the sovereign faced with instincts and passions that originated from below.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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