One of the most unusual decisions of the leaders of the French Revolution - and one that had immense practical as well as symbolic impact - was to abandon customarily-accepted ways of calculating date and time to create a Revolutionary calendar. The experiment lasted from 1793 to 1805, and prompted all sorts of questions about the nature of time, ways of measuring it and its relationship to individual, community, communication and creative life. This study traces the course of the Revolutionary Calendar, from its cultural origins to its decline and fall. Tracing the parallel stories of the calendar and the literary genius of its creator, Sylvain Marechal, from the Enlightenment to the Napoleonic era, Sanja Perovic reconsiders the status of the French Revolution as the purported 'origin' of modernity, the modern experience of time, and the relationship between the imagination and political action.
Sanja Perovic is Lecturer in the French Department at King's College London.
Introduction; 1. From myth to lived experience: the literary and cultural origins of the revolutionary calendar; 2. Between the volcano and the sun: Sylvain Marechal against his time; 3. History and nature: the double origins of Republican time; 4. Death by volcano: revolutionary terror and the problem of year II; 5. Unenthusiastic memory: imagining the festive calendar; 6. Perishable Enlightenment: wearing out the calendar; 7. The end of the lyrical Revolution and the calendar's piecemeal decline; Conclusion; Chronology of Gregorian and Republican calendars; Bibliography; Index.