The abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès (1748-1836) distinguished himself as the chief theoretician of the French Revolution - and as a revolutionary constitutional and social theorist in his own right - through his rigorously analytical theory of representative government and its corollary, the representative character of social life in general. He expressed the essence of his thought in a series of three pamphlets published in the months leading up to the meeting of the Estates-General in 1789. This volume presents all three essays - Views of the Executive Means
, An Essay on Privileges
, and What Is the Third Estate?
- in their entirety. The third essay, in a new translation by Michael Sonenscher, is followed by Sieyès' 1791 newspaper debate with Tom Paine on the merits of monarchy versus republicanism. Elucidated by Sonenscher's insightful Introduction, these texts will fascinate anyone interested in the history of the French Revolution, the history of social and political thought, or the origins and character of modern liberalism.
Michael Sonenscher is a Fellow and Director of Studies in History, King's College, University of Cambridge.