This week we’re reading RIghts Of Man by Thomas Paine, and I’m finding this book very hard to get through.
Firstly, it is very historically based, and history is not my strongest subject. I’m knowledgable in a few key parts of history, and sadly the French Revolution is not one of them.
Secondly, the book very much feels like an angry rant on the part of Paine against Burke, which does bring some humour to the reading, but also can become tiring when we are not so familiar with the argument he is fighting against.
I do think Paine brings forth some interesting ideas, and that he was quite brave for writing them in the time he was in. His publisher even withdrew the text at some point for fear of persecution. I am very against censorship of texts, and the persecution of authors, so I am happy that Paine put his ideas into the world, even though it may have caused him hardship. It was a book that needed to be out there at the time, especially since it was written in words that everyone could understand.
At the moment I feel I still have not really grasped this book, therefore this blog post is probably quite bland. Hopefully the seminars will help liven this book up a bit.
It’s true that without knowledge of what he’s arguing against, the first part of the text can be very confusing. So you can see why, to prepare for the lecture, I read a significant portion of Burke’s book! But since it’s around 400 pages, I could only manage about half in the time I had. Hopefully the lecture helped give you some ideas of what Burke had to say!
I more or less assumed that most people had a decent knowledge of the French Revolution from high school, but I shouldn’t have. I think it would be useful to talk about this at least briefly in seminar. It’s a long and complicated history, but I think I can focus on a few highlights to help make more sense of the text.