This book is both an analysis of the Bastille as cultural paradigm and a case study on the history of French political culture. It examines in particular the storming and subsequent fall of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789 and how it came to represent the cornerstone of the French Revolution, becoming a symbol of the repression of the Old Regime. Lusebrink and Reichardt use this semiotic reading of the Bastille to reveal how historical symbols are generated; what these symbols' functions are in the collective memory of societies; and how they are used by social, political, and ideological groups.
To facilitate the symbolic nature of the investigation, this analysis of the evolving signification of the Bastille moves from the French Revolution to the nineteenth century to contemporary history. The narrative also shifts from France to other cultural arenas, like the modern European colonial sphere, where the overthrow of the Bastille acquired radical new signification in the decolonization period of the 1940s and 1950s. The Bastille demonstrates the potency of the interdisciplinary historical research that has characterized the end of this century, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, and taking its methodological tools from history, sociology, linguistics, and cultural and literary studies.
Hans-Jurgen Lusebrink is chair of French Cultural Studies and Intercultural Communication at the Universitat des Saarlandes, Germany. Rolf Reichardt is head of the scholarly reference department, Universitat Mainz, Germany. Hans-Jurgen Lusebrink is chair of French Cultural Studies and Intercultural Communication at the Universitat des Saarlandes, Germany. Rolf Reichardt is head of the scholarly reference department, Universitat Mainz, Germany.
Editors' Introduction vii Preface xvii Translator's Note xix Introduction 1 Genesis of a Political Symbol: The Bastille, 1715-1789 6 The Storming of the Bastille: The Historical Event as a Collective Symbol Action 38 Revolutionary Symbolism under the Sign of the Bastille, 1789-1799: A Prime Example of the Self-Mystification of the French Revolution 79 Bastille Symbolism in Modern France: The Republican Legacy of the French Revolution 205 Final Remarks: On the Origin and Function of a Historical Symbol 241 Appendix: Reports on the Storming of the Bastille, 1789 247 Notes 251 Works Cited 287 Index 297