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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...
... 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 ...

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 ...

Twenty Kicks in the Backside

Tom Stammers: Rosa Bonheur’s Flock, 5 November 2020

Art Is a Tyrant: The Unconventional Life of Rosa Bonheur 
by Catherine Hewitt.
Icon, 483 pp., £20, February, 978 1 78578 621 1
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... an imposing bronze, earned comparison with the foremost animal sculptor of the period, Antoine-Louis Barye. Bonheur’s competence as a sculptor clearly assisted her modelling of powerful animal bodies in paint. She exhibited six works in the Salon of 1846 and was praised by the socialist critic Théophile Thoré: ‘Mlle Rosa Bonheur’s flock of sheep ...

‘I am my own foundation’

Megan Vaughan: Fanon and Third Worldism, 18 October 2001

Frantz Fanon: A Life 
by David Macey.
Granta, 640 pp., £12.99, September 2001, 1 86207 458 5
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... In August 1777 a crowd gathered in Port Louis, the capital of the Indian Ocean island of Ile de France (now Mauritius), for the execution of Benoît Giraud, otherwise known as ‘Hector the Mulatto’. Though the term ‘mulatto’ implied some ‘white’ parentage, Giraud was also described as a ‘free-born black’ from Martinique, an island on the other side of the French colonial empire ...

Mon cher Monsieur

Julian Barnes: Prove your Frenchness, 22 April 2021

Letters to Camondo 
by Edmund de Waal.
Chatto, 182 pp., £14.99, April, 978 1 78474 431 1
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The House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France 
by James McAuley.
Yale, 301 pp., £25, March, 978 0 300 23337 7
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... room. ‘It’s a mess, a train wreck, an incredible junk store.’ The centre of his ire was the Louis XVI salon. Here were masterpieces of art and furniture, acquired for ‘the sovereigns of Israel’ from dealers across Europe. And, ‘in the middle, like a trophy, there is the incomparable harpsichord of Marie Antoinette, which is heartbreaking to find ...

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