Anticipating a number of recent studies, Rosenstock Huessy highlighted the theatricality of the French Revolution: “Not only did the actors try to play ‘the made day,’ but the madness of the Revolution was embodied in an actress who had to play the Goddess of Reason on the Field of Mars in 1794. It was an actor who first wore the costume of a sans-culotte. An actor and an actress infused into the French Revolution a bit of histrionic gesture, ardour of declaration, inspiration and verve. The French Revolution introduced the clapping of hands from the theatre into public life, where it had been unknown before. One wave had to flow from the ocean of theatrical passion into the new organized nation to foment its new covenant; and it did . . . . The theatre changed the audience; it communicated the sentiments of Daphnis and Chloe to the King and Queen of France and the passions of the Great to the roturier, the business man. The stage was a training camp for the new equality of citizenship” (quoted in Religion, Redemption and Revolution: The New Speech Thinking Revolution of Franz Rozenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy , 360).

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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