368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 30 illus., notes, bibl., index
Public Cultures and Personal Identities in an Age of Revolutions
1998 Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
1996 Gilbert Chinard Prize, Society for French Historical Studies
Lloyd Kramer offers a new interpretation of the cultural and political significance of the career of the Marquis de Lafayette, which spanned the American Revolution, the French Revolutions of 1789 and 1830, and the Polish Uprising of 1830-31. Moving beyond traditional biography, Kramer traces the wide-ranging influence of Lafayette's public and personal life, including his contributions to the emergence of nationalist ideologies in Europe and America, his extensive connections with liberal political theorists, and his close friendships with prominent writers, many of them women. Kramer places Lafayette on the cusp of the two worlds of America and France, politics and literature, the Enlightenment and the Romantic movement, public affairs and private life, revolution and nationalism, and men and women. He argues that Lafayette's experiences reveal how public figures can symbolize the aspirations of a society as a whole, and he stresses Lafayette's important role in a cultural network of contemporaries that included Germaine de Staël, Benjamin Constant, Frances Wright, James Fenimore Cooper, and Alexis de Tocqueville. History/Biography
"[A] valuable book."
--Journal of the Early Republic
"This book . . . successfully mixes the biography of one of Europe’s most colorful figures with an insightful and gracefully written analysis of political culture during one of European history’s most exciting epochs."
--Literature and Culture
"Kramer’s sophisticated interpretation is highly readable as well as suggestive of ways in which important individuals both reflect and illuminate the cultures of their times."
"An intriguing effort to rescue the image of the quintessential traditional historical subject, the 'great man,' has come from a self-consciously postmodern historian. Kramer achieves his goal by creating a 'cubist' biography of Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette. . . . Kramer has provided not only a work useful to French and intellectual historians, but also a methodology that others will find attractive."
"Lloyd Kramer's innovative study is neither a biography nor the history of a symbol. . . . He examines the hero of two worlds as both a life and a text, and he finds in the relationship between the two some missing links in the history of the age of revolutions."
--Journal of American History
"Lafayette certainly had political enemies, but Lloyd Kramer shows that few of the great historical personalities of his era were so widely and deeply admired as was the 'hero of two worlds.'. . . This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the transition between the Enlightenment and Romanticism, of Lafayette's life and intellectual milieu, and of the concrete processes of translation and mediation by which identities are forged."
--Journal of Southern History
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