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A bas les chefs!

John Sturrock: Jules Vallès, 9 February 2006

The Child 
by Jules Vallès, translated by Douglas Parmée.
NYRB, 343 pp., £8.99, August 2005, 1 59017 117 9
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... directed offstage that has nothing to tell us about the contents ahead. This is not the case with Jules Vallès. The dedications to the three books by which he’s mainly known are not meant kindly, are hard to avoid because they are printed directly underneath the title, convey the gist of what is coming and set the tone for the language it comes ...

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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... of ‘Le Temps des cerises’, the greatest of the songs associated with the Commune), the writer Jules Vallès and Courbet set about closing down all Catholic schools and removing religious symbols from the premises. The idea was to undo the stranglehold the Church had over schooling in Paris, where a third of children went to religious schools and ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 8 February 1990

A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... is the fine French tradition of populist writing, in the work of such authors as the magnificent Jules Vallès or Charles-Louis Philippe, or, in a rather different direction, Simenon; and another native tradition, similarly strong, of the splendid humorous writing there has been in France over the past hundred years. The delectable band of the OuLiPo ...

The Wrong Head

Mike Jay: Am I Napoleon?, 21 May 2015

The Man Who Thought He Was Napoleon: Towards a Political History of Madness 
by Laure Murat, translated by Deke Dusinberre.
Chicago, 288 pp., £31.50, October 2014, 978 0 226 02573 5
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... had become vanishingly rare. Murat locates its bloody-minded survival in the memoir of Jules Vallès, founder of the insurgent journal Le Cri du peuple, writing in 1881 about the fate of his artist friend André Gill, who ended his life confined in Sainte-Anne and Charenton. Gill broke down after seeing his painting of a madman, Le Fou, badly ...

Delirium

Jeremy Harding: Arthur Rimbaud, 30 July 1998

Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa 1880-91 
by Charles Nicholl.
Vintage, 336 pp., £7.99, May 1998, 0 09 976771 6
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A Season in Hell and Illuminations 
by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Mark Treharne.
Dent, 167 pp., £18.99, June 1998, 0 460 87958 8
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... in the streets and the arrondissement committees – as other writers and artists such as Jules Vallès and Courbet assuredly were, during the brief spring of the Commune. In Rimbaud’s case, the revolution served the intellectual rather better. The wish to co-opt the poet-seer for ‘world historical’ purposes can lead to some odd ...

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