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How a new book reveals the place of feeling in politics

Rachel Hewitt's Revolution of Feeling is a pacy romp through modern history

By Gabriel Byng   December 2017

A Gillray illustration from the 1790s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When reflecting on a decade during which regicide and rebellion had traversed European politics, Edmund Burke would nevertheless describe the “revolution in sentiments” as “the most important of all revolutions.” There was stiff competition for the title in the 1790s, the decade Rachel Hewitt examines, but Burke was right that the emotions had taken on an unprecedented political salience. Radicals and reactionaries debated whether to embrace a passionate love of homeland or encourage hot-blooded fury at the conditions of the poor.…

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