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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 EdouardLouis, 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 ...

At Tate Britain

Anne Wagner: ‘Salt and Silver’

20 May 2015
... And how long did its earliness endure? The customary answer is just short of three decades, from about 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 ...

Autumn in Paris

Musab Younis: Autumn in Paris

25 November 2019
... Senate passed an amendment banning ‘the wearing of religious symbols’ by adults accompanying children 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 ...

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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... demanded the repeal of the Loi Taubira’s second article in the name of ‘parallelism’ (with the 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 ...
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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... intellectually, it has sustained theorists of revolution ever since. Tocqueville’s demonstration 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 ...

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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... 1791, came to serve the Nation, on and off until the present, as the site for the most glorious of the 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 ...

Globalisation before Globalisation

Philippe Marlière: The Paris Commune

1 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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... was elected, comprising 215 battalions, equipped with 2000 cannons and 450,000 firearms. Thiers’s 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 ...

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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... that there was a tremendous row when it came to settling on 1 May as International Workers’ 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 ...

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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... the Age of Progress tended to leave more concealed, and often unchanged, than they revealed. When it 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 ...

‘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 ...
3 April 1980
... relate a story of a contest for possession of some furniture in immense detail without ever indicating 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 no specifics ...
17 March 1983
An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration 
by Mario Praz, translated by William Weaver.
Thames and Hudson, 396 pp., £35, March 1982, 0 500 23358 6
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Degas 
by Keith Roberts.
Phaidon, 48 pp., £10.50, March 1982, 0 7148 2226 4
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Monet at Argenteuil 
by Paul Tucker.
Yale, 211 pp., £15, April 1982, 0 300 02577 7
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... In the 1982 enlarged edition of Keith Roberts’s Degas – one of the books in the old Colour Plate Series which has been bumped up to the new Colour Library format – the flap refers to Edouard Degas, which makes you wonder whether there will be a book on Edgar Manet. Meanwhile the remainder shops fill up with stacks of the Phaidon Colour Plate series. These I buy at a cut rate as I would ...
21 March 2019
... custody. In the rest of France nearly 160,000 gilets jaunes came out to protest. The executive was in disarray: Macron had been trying to keep a ‘Jupiterian’ distance, while the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, and various members of his cabinet were shoved forward to condemn the violence and announce that there would be no change of position on fuel tax. But the gilets jaunes now had bigger, more ...

Who does that for anyone?

Adam Shatz: Jean-Pierre Melville

20 June 2019
Jean-Pierre Melville: Le Solitaire 
by Bertrand Teissier.
Fayard, 272 pp., €22, October 2017, 978 2 213 70573 6
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Jean-Pierre Melville, une vie 
by Antoine de Baecque.
Seuil, 244 pp., €32, October 2017, 978 2 02 137107 9
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... in shattering the silence around the war. He was not a breaker of taboos, like Marcel Ophüls in his scathing documentary of French complicity, The Sorrow and the Pity (1969), or, in a different way, Louis Malle in his ambiguous portrait of a collaborator, Lacombe, Lucien (1974). If he was silent about what he had seen, he shared that silence with everyone who had lived through the war, whatever side ...
10 June 2010
... He also knew that, as the question of what the tribunal knew or did not know would be virtually impossible to settle in law, he was almost certain to be found guilty. ‘It is impossible,’ Louis Begley writes in his recent book about the affair, Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters, ‘to overstate Zola’s courage.’2 Zola’s trial was billed as the social event of the decade. It was the place ...

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