Lafayette (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
A major question one must face when studying the life of an important political person is whether that person is a product of the times or whether the times are a product of the actions of that person. With Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, one must come down strongly on the side of the man as a product of the times, for without the American and French revolutions, Lafayette probably would be at most a minor footnote in some French historical tome. But Lafayette is definitely not a footnote in the history of the American war for independence. Even though he participated in only a few major battles, he symbolized better than any other single person the involvement of foreign powers in the revolutionary actions of the American colonists.
What is especially interesting to the American reader who is not familiar with French history and tradition are the seemingly opposite political views held by Lafayette. He was a leader, spiritually if not militarily, in the American fight against the English monarchy, but he was a staunch defender of the French monarchs against all attempts to create a republic in the years following the fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. In order to understand this apparent dichotomy, one must understand Lafayette’s background, and it is here that Peter Buckman, an Englishman, leaves something to be desired in his biographical presentation, at least in terms of the average American reader.
Lafayette was born...
(The entire section is 2330 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Economist. CCLXIII, April 9, 1977, p. 110.
History Today. XXVII, June, 1977, p. 408.
Library Journal. CII, April 1, 1977, p. 794.
Los Angeles Times. March 24, 1977, Section IV, p. 7.
New York Review of Books. XXIV, September 29, 1977, p. 32.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCXI, February 28, 1977, p. 113.
(The entire section is 35 words.)