Images of the French Revolution

Radical Philosophy 53 (53):50-51 (1989)
A fascinating and disturbing exhibition was on show at the British Museum this summer (‘The Shadow of the Guillotine: Britain and the French Revolution’, until 10 September). The exhibition was one of the main British bicentenary events. As the title suggests, however, it was not the usual celebration. Certainly, it differed completely from the big bicentenary exhibition in Paris (‘The French Revolution and Europe: 1789-99’, Grand Palais, until 26 July). There, the focus was on the Revolution’s positive achievements. In London the emphasis was almost entirely negative. The French are reported to be angry about this; but it is we who should be upset. For the exhibition forces us to face up to some of the uglier aspects of our attitudes to France and Europe.
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