Sanja Perovic, "The Calendar in Revolutionary France" (Cambridge UP, 2012)


Brumaire. Germinal. Thermidor. There is nothing more evocative of the French Revolutionary imaginary than the names of the months of the republican calendar that became official in 1793 (the calendar was back-dated to 1792, or Year I). In The Calendar in Revolutionary France: Perceptions of Time in Literature, Culture, Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Sanja Perovic explores the history and meanings of the republican calendar as a representation of the complexities of revolutionaries' understandings of past, present, and future. As she examines the tensions between linear and cyclical visions of time during this pivotal period in French and world history, Perovic considers the calendar as both an object and an ideological project. The book is a history of the calendar itself and also a literary, intellectual, and political biography of Sylvain Maréchal, a revolutionary who played a pivotal role in the development of the new temporal order.

Anyone who has ever wanted to know more about the massive cultural and political shifts of the French Revolution will be interested in reading this book. Perovic's narrative and arguments speak to a wide range of scholarship on republican values and culture, as well as to the broader periodization and historiography of the French Revolution. At the same time, the book reaches further, reading the republican calendar as exemplary of the bigger picture of modern temporality, offering the reader much to think about in terms of the time structures and habits we use to understand our daily lives and our places in history.

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Roxanne Panchasi

Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and empire. She is the founding host of New Books in French Studies, a channel launched in 2013.

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