Top Robespierre Quotes

Browse top 20 famous quotes and sayings about Robespierre by most favorite authors.

Favorite Robespierre Quotes

1. "No single man makes history. History cannot be seen, just as one cannot see grass growing. Wars and revolutions, kings and Robespierres, are history's organic agents, its yeast. But revolutions are made by fanatical men of action with one-track mind, geniuses in their ability to confine themselves to a limited field. They overturn the old order in a few hours or days, the whole upheaval takes a few weeks or at most years, but the fanatical spirit that inspired the upheavals is worshiped for decades thereafter, for centuries."
Author: Boris Pasternak
2. "It is a proof of the divergence of the tendencies of the socialist and the bourgeois pictures of history—and from now on there will be two distinct historical cultures running side by side without ever really fusing—that people who have been brought up on the conventional version of history and know all about the Robespierrist Terror during the Great French Revolution, should find it an unfamiliar fact that the Terror of the government of Thiers executed, imprisoned or exiled more people—the number has been estimated at a hundred thousand—in that one week of the suppression of the [Paris] Commune [of 1871] than the revolutionary Terror of Robespierre had done in three years."
Author: Edmund Wilson
3. "In the first few pages, Kundera discusses several abstract historical figures: Robespierre, Nietzsche, Hitler. For Eunice's sake, I wanted him to get to the plot, to introduce actual "living" characters - I recalled this was a love story - and to leave the world of ideas behind. Here we were, two people lying in bed, Eunice's worried head propped on my collarbone, and I wanted us to feel something in common. I wanted this complex language, this surge of intellect, to be processed into love. Isn't that how they used to do it a century ago, people reading poetry to one another?"
Author: Gary Shteyngart
4. "DANTON: Could you indeed? It's you idealists who make the best tyrants.ROBESPIERRE: It seems a bit late to be having this conversation. I've had to take up violence now, and so much else. We should have discussed it last year."
Author: Hilary Mantel
5. "In Paris the swaying lanterns are lit in the streets; lights shine through water, fuzzy, diffuse. Saint-Just sits by an insufficient fire, in a poor light. He is a Spartan after all, and Spartans don't need home comforts. He has begun his report, his list of accusations; if Robespierre saw it now, he would tear it up, but in a few days' time it will be the very thing he needs. Sometimes he stops, half-glances over his shoulder. He feels someone has come into the room behind him; but when he allows himself to look, there is nothing to see. It is my destiny, he feels, forming in the shadows of the room. It is the guardian angel I had, long ago when I was a child. It is Camille Desmoulins, looking over my shoulder, laughing at my grammar. He pauses for a moment. He thinks, there are no living ghosts. He takes hold of himself. Bends his head over his task. His pen scratches. His strange letterforms incise the paper. His handwriting is minute. He gets a lot of words to the page."
Author: Hilary Mantel
6. "Ask Robespierre. Ask the man with the conscience which is more important, your friend or your country— ask him how he weighs an individual in the scheme of things. Ask him which comes first, his old pals or his new principles. You ask him, Camille."
Author: Hilary Mantel
7. "As the year goes on, certain deputies—and others, high in public life—will appear unshaven, without coat or cravat; or they will jettison these marks of the polite man, when the temperature rises. They affect the style of men who begin their mornings with a splash under a backyard pump, and who stop off at their street-corner bar for a nip of spirits on their way to ten hours' manual labor. Citizen Robespierre, however, is a breathing rebuketo these men; he retains his buckled shoes, his striped coat of olive green. Can it be the same coat that he wore in the first year of the Revolution? He is not profligate with coats.While Citizen Danton tears off the starched linen that fretted his thick neck, Citizen Saint-Just's cravat grows ever higher, stiffer, more wonderful to behold. He affects a single earring, but he resembles less a corsair than a slightly deranged merchant banker."
Author: Hilary Mantel
8. "The Robespierre women (as one tended to think of them now) were all on display. Madame looked actively, rather intimidatingly benevolent; it was her aim in life to find a Jacobin who was hungry, then to go into the kitchen and make extravagant efforts, and say, "I have fed a patriot!"."
Author: Hilary Mantel
9. "People said— though this felt like a heresy— that they had seen Camille make Robespierre laugh."
Author: Hilary Mantel
10. "Georges told me he would be back, and I have no reason to disbelieve him—but perhaps you'd like to sit down here and write him a letter? Tell him you can't manage the thing without him, which is true. Tell him Robespierre says he can't get along without him. And when you're done, you might go and find Robespierre and ask him to call. He is such a steadying influence when Camille is killing himself."
Author: Hilary Mantel
11. "All that evening he talked to the Candle of Arras, in a low confidential tone. When you get down to it, he thought, there's not much difference between politics and sex; it's all aboutpower. He didn't suppose he was the first person in the world to make this observation. It's a question of seduction, and how fast and cheap you can effect it: if Camille, he thought, approximates to one of those little milliners who can't make ends meet - in other words, an absolute pushover - then Robespierre is a Carmelite, mind set on becoming Mother Superior. You can't corrupt her; you can wave your cock under her nose, and she's neither shocked nor interested: why should she be, when she hasn't the remotest ideawhat it's for?"
Author: Hilary Mantel
12. "In the Convention tomorrow I shall put him up to confront Saint-Just. Imagine it. Our man the picture of starched rectitude, and looking as if he has just devoured a beefsteak; and Camille making a joke or two at our man's expense and then talking about '89. A cheap trick, but the galleries will cheer. This will make Saint-Just lose his temper-not easy, since he cultivates this Greek statue manner of his—but I guarantee that Camille can do it. As soon as our man begins to bawl and roar, Camille will fold up and look helpless. That will get Robespierre on his feet, and we will all generate one of these huge emotional scenes. I always win those."
Author: Hilary Mantel
13. "Robespierre has never forgiven his friends the injuries he has done them, nor the kindnesses he has received from them, nor the talents some of them possess that he doesn't."
Author: Hilary Mantel
14. "Talking to Robespierre, one tried to make the right noises; but what is right, these days? Address yourself to the militant, and you find a pacifist giving you a reproachful look. Address yourself to the idealist, and you'll find that you've fallen into the company of a cheerful, breezy professional politician. Address yourself to means, and you'll be told to think of ends: to ends, and you'll be told to think of means. Make an assumption, and you will find it overturned; offer yesterday's conviction, and today you'll find it shredded. What did Mirabeau complain of? He believes everything he says. Presumably there was some layer of Robespierre, some deep stratum, where all the contradictions were resolved."
Author: Hilary Mantel
15. "I resent you—" Robespierre said. His words were lost. "The People," he shouted, "are everywhere good, and if they obstruct the Revolution—even, for example, at Toulon—we must blame their leaders.""What are you going on about this for?" Danton asked him. Fabre launched himself from the wall. "He is trying to enunciate a doctrine," he shrieked. "He thinks the time has come for a bloody sermon." "If only," Robespierre yelled, "there were more vertu.""More what?""Vertu. Love of one's country. Self-sacrifice. Civic spirit.""One appreciates your sense of humor, of course." Danton jerked his thumb in the direction of the noise. "The only vertu those bastards understand is the kind I demonstrate every night to my wife."
Author: Hilary Mantel
16. "You must, of course. Robespierre doesn't lie or cheat or steal, doesn't get drunk, doesn't fornicate—overmuch. He's not a hedonist or a mainchancer or a breaker of promises." Danton grinned. "But what's the use of all this goodness? People don't try to emulate you. Instead they just pull the wool over your eyes."
Author: Hilary Mantel
17. "Inside his copy of The Social Contract he keeps a letter from a young Picard, an enthusiast called Antoine Saint-Just: "I know you, Robespierre, as I know God, by your works."When he suffers, as he does increasingly, from a distressing tightness of the chest and shortness of breath, and when his eyes seem too tired to focus on the printed page, the thought of the letter urges the weak flesh to more Works."
Author: Hilary Mantel
18. "Robespierre, however, was not the type of leader finally destined to emerge from the Revolution."
Author: Irving Babbitt
19. "And Robespierre, the Incorruptible, who loved us so much he cut off our heads so we would not be troubled by too many thoughts."
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
20. "There are matters in that book, said to be done by the express command of God, that are as shocking to humanity, and to every idea we have of moral justice, as any thing done by Robespierre, by Carrier, by Joseph le Bon, in France, by the English government in the East Indies, or by any other assassin in modern times. When we read in the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, etc., that they (the Israelites) came by stealth upon whole nations of people, who, as the history itself shews, had given them no offence; that they put all those nations to the sword; that they spared neither age nor infancy; that they utterly destroyed men, women and children; that they left not a soul to breathe; expressions that are repeated over and over again in those books, and that too with exulting ferocity; are we sure these things are facts? are we sure that the Creator of man commissioned those things to be done? Are we sure that the books that tell us so were written by his authority?"
Author: Thomas Paine

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Elene gasped and sat up. "Kylar Thaddeus Stern!"Kylar giggled. "Thaddeus? That's a good one. I knew a Thaddeus once.""So did I. He was a blind idiot.""Really?" Kylar said, his eyes dancing. "The one I knew was famous for his gigantic-""Kylar!" Elene interrupted, motioning toward Uly."His gigantic what?" Uly asked."Now you did it." Elene said, "His gigantic what, Kyler?""Feet. And you know what they say about big feet." He winked lasciviously at Elene."What?" Uly asked."Big Shoes," Kylar said."
Author: Brent Weeks

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