The Women of Paris and Their French Revolution

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During the French Revolution, hundreds of domestic and working-class women of Paris were interrogated, examined, accused, denounced, arrested, and imprisoned for their rebellious and often hostile behavior. Here, for the first time in English translation, Dominique Godineau offers an illuminating account of these female revolutionaries. As nurturing and tender as they are belligerent and contentious, these are not singular female heroines but the collective common women who struggled for bare subsistence by working in ...

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Feb 13, 2009

Great study of early women's political activism!

Although Godineau's book may seem daunting because of its massive size (400 pages minues index), it is a must-read for anyone interested in women's political participation or the French Revolution(s). A general background or understanding of the chronology of the revolution is useful to the reader before engaging in this book. It is not an easy read, but is well written and invaluable.

Fortunately, her narrative is rich and well supported by her stint in the archives of Paris. She examines the economic situation of women during the rveolutionary period, the struggle by a select minority of early feminists to push for suffrage and rights, the male backlash and social mentalities of the period, and the widespread appeal for a women's movement to pressure the government to provide for its people.

Godineau's argument is very similar Olwen Hufton's earlier understandings of women's political involvement in the revolution. However, Godineau is far more sympathetic and empathically involved with the causes of the revolution, and this is apparent in her treatment of the sansculottes. Her bias toward the working classes does not detract from her findings or framework, but the reader should at least be aware of it. Overall, it is a great contribution to the plethora of works on the French Revolution, and is also useful to those who research the struggles of the disenfranchised--- in this case women.

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