A very original if somewhat disturbing book on the imaginary of the French Revolution. Arasse, a historian of art, discusses the stories that were created about and around the guillotine. He shows how the machine was invested with the values and fantasies of the time and tries to understand the power it exercises over our imagination. Ultimately, the secret of the guillotine might lie in how it embodies a series of tensions or paradoxes: reason and violence, law and anarchy, humanitarian sentiments and bloody spectacles, science and horror, medicine and killing.
Arasse, Daniel. The Guillotine and the Terror. London & New York: Penguin, 1991. Print.
Arasse, Daniel, “The Guillotine and the Terror,” Legacies of the Enlightenment, accessed October 1, 2023, http://enlightenmentlegacies.org/items/show/90.