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The People of the Village

Tash Aw: ‘The End of Eddy’, 16 February 2017

The End of Eddy 
by Edouard Louis, translated by Michael Lucey.
Harvill Secker, 192 pp., £12.99, February 2017, 978 1 84655 900 6
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Histoire de la violence 
by Edouard Louis.
Editions du Seuil, 230 pp., £22, January 2016, 978 2 7578 6481 4
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... A chance encounter​ on Christmas Eve ends with Edouard Louis, a student at the École Normale Supérieure, taking a stranger back to his apartment. Louis has struggled with the decision to invite the man to share his home and his body, and now, poised on the brink of terrible physical and emotional violence that will have long-standing consequences for both of them, the young men have choices to make ...

Saint Agnes’s Lament

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Shuggie Bain’, 3 December 2020

Shuggie Bain 
by Douglas Stuart.
Picador, 448 pp., £14.99, August, 978 1 5290 1927 8
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... have earned praise and prizes in recent decades. The jacket copy invites comparisons to Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt and Hanya Yanagihara. (Alan Hollinghurst is also present, but the implied comparison seems to be stylistic rather than thematic.) Edward St Aubyn and Karl Ove Knausgaard, with their bad dads, would also have been apt. The critic Sam Sacks has ...

A Million Shades of Red

Adam Mars-Jones: Growing Up Gay, 8 September 2022

Young Mungo 
by Douglas Stuart.
Picador, 391 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 5290 6876 4
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... there’s a hell​ below Shuggie Bain’s, it must be the Picardy village where Édouard Louis (born 1992) grew up, as he recounts in The End of Eddy, published in French in 2014. Eddy Bellegueule (Louis’s birth name) had a high-pitched voice and gestures that were deemed effeminate. He didn’t walk as boys are ...

The Palimpsest Sensation

Joanna Biggs: Annie Ernaux’s Gaze, 21 October 2021

by Annie Ernaux, translated by Tanya Leslie.
Fitzcarraldo, 74 pp., £8.99, September, 978 1 913097 68 4
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... The politics is in the attention she pays to ordinary things, linking her work to that of Édouard Louis and Didier Eribon as well as Flaubert and Maupassant (who wrote about the part of Normandy she is from), and also to all those, the Gilets Jaunes among them, who are fed up of hearing about the Left Bank as if it were the centre of the country, if not the ...

In the Alchemist’s Den

Mike Jay, 27 July 2023

Elixir: A Story of Perfume, Science and the Search for the Secret of Life 
by Theresa Levitt.
Basic, 314 pp., £20, April, 978 1 3998 0324 3
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... these puzzles were eventually solved by the generation of scientists who succeeded the perfumers. Louis Pasteur began his career peering through Laurent’s microscope at geometrical crystals, and subsequently spent years trying and failing to create a synthetic chemical that was optically active. Along the way, he resolved the problem of fermentation by ...

Inside the Barrel

Brent Hayes Edwards: The French Slave Trade, 10 September 2009

Memoires des esclavages: la fondation d’un centre national pour la memoire des esclavages et de leurs abolitions 
by Edouard Glissant.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €14.90, May 2007, 978 2 07 078554 4
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The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade 
by Christopher Miller.
Duke, 571 pp., £20.99, March 2008, 978 0 8223 4151 2
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... dubious logic that both laws attempted to mandate an ‘official history’). In his foreword to Edouard Glissant’s Mémoires des esclavages, the former prime minister Dominique de Villepin writes that ‘today France wants to look into the face of this tragedy that has left so many open wounds across the world and in her own flesh,’ but is unable to ...

Autumn in Paris

Musab Younis: Autumn in Paris, 5 December 2019

... on school trips. The amendment is unlikely to pass the lower house. During the debate, Jean-Louis Masson, an independent senator from Moselle, likened veiled women to ‘witches’. ‘If they’re not happy, they can go back to where they came from,’ he said.On the same day, two hundred Malian migrants were evicted from the Foyer Bara hostel in the ...

At Tate Britain

Anne Wagner: ‘Salt and Silver’, 21 May 2015

... 1839 to 1865. The first date marks not the beginning of photographic experiments, but the year Louis Daguerre announced his ability to ‘seize the light’, a claim soon rephrased by William Henry Fox Talbot as the art of ‘fixing a shadow’. As for 1865, it’s the year that marks, along with much else, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the end of ...

Tocqueville in Saginaw

Alan Ryan, 2 March 1989

Tocqueville: A Biography 
by André Jardin, translated by Lydia Davis and Robert Hemenway.
Peter Halban, 550 pp., £18, October 1988, 1 870015 13 4
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... that the violent political upheavals of 1789-99 masked a deeper continuity between the France of Louis XIV and post-revolutionary France raised issues about the relationship between pluralism and social stability that have been debated ever since; his claim that Britain preserved its aristocratic form of government because the English aristocracy was both a ...

War on God! That is Progress!

Susan Watkins: Paul Lafargue and French socialism, 13 May 1999

Paul Lafargue and the Flowering of French Socialism, 1882-1911 
by Leslie Derfler.
Harvard, 382 pp., £27.95, July 1998, 0 674 65912 0
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... Day. Yet at the end there was a tremendous cheer for the symbolic handshake between Liebknecht and Edouard Vaillant, representing the unity of the French and German proletariats against militarism and war. Lafargue was one of the first socialist deputies elected to the French Assembly. His maiden speech was heckled from all sides. Engels wrote comfortingly ...

Oui Oyi Awè Jo Ja Oua

Michael Sheringham: The French Provinces, 31 July 2008

The Discovery of France 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 454 pp., £9.99, July 2008, 978 0 330 42761 6
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... was finally completed in 1815, the heroic feat of map-making launched seventy years earlier under Louis XV, and masterminded by four generations of the Cassini family, recorded for the first time the names of half a million obscure hamlets (three thousand in the Aveyron alone). In 1792, not long before his execution, ...

Globalisation before Globalisation

Philippe Marlière: The Paris Commune, 2 July 2015

Massacre: The Life and Death of the Paris Commune of 1871 
by John Merriman.
Yale, 324 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17452 6
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Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune 
by Kristin Ross.
Verso, 148 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 1 78168 839 7
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... new government embodied a conservative brand of republicanism. He had been prime minister under Louis-Philippe’s July Monarchy in 1836, 1840 and 1848, and was later a fierce opponent of Napoleon III. He was far from being the kind of leader the Parisian militants wanted in power. Thiers had promised the conservative députés in the National Assembly that ...

In and Out of the Panthéon

Thomas Laqueur: Funerals, politics and memory in France, 20 September 2001

Funerals, Politics and Memory in Modern France 1789-1996 
by Avner Ben-Amos.
Oxford, 425 pp., £55, October 2000, 0 19 820328 4
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Monumental Intolerance: Jean Baffier, a Nationalist Sculptor in Fin-de-Siècle France 
by Neil McWilliam.
Pennsylvania State, 326 pp., £58.95, November 2000, 0 271 01965 4
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... new death rituals. This magnificently domed Neoclassical building was designed, in the reign of Louis XVI, by the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot. (It sits at the head of the eponymous rue Soufflot, which runs from the Place du Panthéon to the Luxembourg Gardens.) It was intended to be a church dedicated to Ste Geneviève, but it wasn’t consecrated as ...

Dr Love or Dr God?

Luc Sante: ‘The Man in the Red Coat’, 5 March 2020

The Man in the Red Coat 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 280 pp., £20, November 2019, 978 1 78733 216 4
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... varied, dramatic, ironically layered photographic portraits of herself (taken by Pierre-Louis Pierson), but had to wait until our time to be fully appreciated.Montesquiou was elegantly evasive about his homosexuality, though in the context of the time he could be quite effusively homoerotic without raising many more eyebrows than he did with his ...
... except in the vaguest way what the desirable stuff was. We gather that quite a lot is French – Louis Quinze and Louis Seize are mentioned once each (‘the sweetest Louis Seize’) – but we also hear of Venetian velvet and of ‘a great Italian cabinet’ in the red room, though with ...

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