Since 1989 there have been competing accounts of the French Revolution. For self-styled revisionist historians such as François Furet, the revolutionary period that began in 1789 is over and should be analyzed historically. The philosopher Alain Badiou, in contrast, claims that historicization denies the very nature of the revolutionary event. By considering the French revolutionary calendar and the concept of time it expresses, this article argues that neither interpretation fully grasps the French Revolution's own temporality. I apply Andrew Abbott's distinction between lyrical and narrative modes to reformulate the Furet/Badiou dispute as a more general problem of understanding the performative function of revolutionary language and symbolic dates.

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