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Upon publication in 1791-92, the two parts of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man proved to be both wildly popular and extremely controversial. This immediate bestseller not only defended the French revolution, but also challenged hereditary government, advocated democratic principles, and introduced a blueprint for the modern welfare state. As a result, Rights of Man outsold nearly every other book published over the century before Paine himself was sentenced in absentia for seditious libel and forced into permanent exile from his native England. More than 200 years later, this seminal text continues to inspire liberal and progressive movements around the world.
The Routledge Guidebook to Paine’s Rights of Man provides a complete introduction to this foundational text in the history of modern political thought, addressing its historical context, central themes, reception, and influence:
The Routledge Guides to the Great Books provide ideal introductions to the texts which have shaped Western Civilization. The Guidebooks explore the arguments and ideas contained in the most influential works from some of the most brilliant thinkers who have ever lived, from Aristotle to Marx and Newton to Wollstonecraft. Each Guidebook opens with a short introduction to the author of the great book and the context within which they were working and concludes with an examination of the lasting significance of the book. The Routledge Guides to the Great Books will therefore provide students everywhere with complete introductions to the most significant books of all time.