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The Girondins of Chile: Reminiscences of an Eyewitness (Library of Latin America)
Synopses & Reviews
The Girondins of Chile
tells of the strong influence that the European revolutions of 1848 had in Chile, and how they motivated a young Santiago society with high cultural aspirations but little political knowledge or direction. Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna, a Chilean writer and historian who lived during those days in Santiago, relates the events of the time, events in which he was a participant. He pays special attention to how the 1848 revolutions and their attendant ideas influenced the thoughts and actions of a group of young liberals he called "Chilean Girondins."
When the news of the fall of Philippe d'Orléans and the subsequent installation of the Second Republic reached Chile, there was an explosion of jubilation in Santiago. Now there were no barriers to ideas, Vicuña Mackenna wrote, "much less to the generous ideas proclaimed by the sincere people of France." But it only took a few days for warnings and critiques of French events to surface, and when a proletarian revolution took place in June in France, Chilean public opinion became virulently anti-revolutionary. Except, of course, among the liberal youth, the Chilean Girondins, who were headed towards revolution--and sooner than anyone thought.
When revolution came in 1851, Vicuña Mackenna found himself sentenced to death for taking part in the uprising. He escaped, spent some years in exile, and was able to return in 1855. He remained active in politics, yet his account of what happened to the Chilean Girondins in the 1851-52 revolution was not published until 1876.
Book News Annotation:
Originally written in 1876, Los Girondinos chilenos (here presented in the translated English) reminisced about the Girondin movement in Chile circa 1848, a movement of which the author was an enthusiastic participant. The Girondin movement shared in the liberal ideals that had inspired the uprisings across Europe at the time and was inspired in part by the French work Histoire des Girondins. An introduction almost as long as the translated text itself places the work in some historical context, examining the impact of the European revolutions of 1848 on Chilean society and politics. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Cristián Gazmuri is Director of the Instituto de Historia, Pontíficia Universidad Católica de Chile and Member of the Chilean Academy of History. John H. R. Polt is Professor of Spanish, Emeritus, at the University of California, Berkeley.
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