In Immortal Obsession, the vampire Etienne tries to warn Christian and Michel of the coming revolution but they do not want to believe it. Their lives are strangely woven into the fabric of the mortal world. Like Christian and Michel, I too read both fiction and non-fiction about the French Revolution and still wonder marvel at this dark period in French history.
The French Revolution was 10 years (1789-1799) of chaos – social and political upheaval – that overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, experienced violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history – in fact, historians widely consider the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history – an event that triggered the global decline of absolute monarchies and replaced them with republics and liberal democracies. There are many complex reasons the Revolution came about including: 1) the bourgeouisie resented being excluded from political power and positions of honor; 2) peasants were more and more aware of their situation, and less and less willing to support the feudal system; 3) France was the most populous country in Europe, and crop failures in much of the country in 1788, on top of a long period of economic difficulties, compounded existing restlessness; and 4) the French monarchy was unable to adapt to the political and societal pressures being exerted on it. The French Revolution is also the origin of Bastille Day – the Bastille was a fortress in Paris, known formally as the Bastille Saint-Antoine. It played an important role in the internal conflicts of France and for most of its history was used as a state prison by the kings of France. It was stormed by a crowd on July 14, 1789, becoming an important symbol for the French Republican movement.
As the novel opens, Christian and Michel are fleeing Paris, trying to get to a ship leaving for London. There are marching mobs everywhere, and the luxurious apartment where their lover lives in in flames. They had both risked the fires to say goodbye to the mortal, Josette Delacore. Later in the novel, Christian ruminates over the state of his city.
Etienne had tried to warn them of the coming revolution, waving a copy of Rousseau’s The Social Contract in their faces. As he read excerpts from it while they sat around the fireplace, Christian wondered, why could we not see it coming?