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26 January 1995
The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500-1800 
edited by Lynn Hunt.
Zone, 411 pp., £24.25, August 1993, 9780942299687
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... becoming female territory; no longer woman as sex-object, but woman as critic, commentator and connoisseur. Almost all the contributors to The Invention of Pornography, a volume of essays edited by LynnHunt, are women. The result is curiously ambivalent. These are women looking at men looking at women, and although there is no explicit hint of scholarly retribution in thus exposing the male ...
22 July 1993
Politics by Other Means: Higher Education and Group Thinking 
by David Bromwich.
Yale, 296 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 300 05702 4
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Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts can Revitalise American Education 
by Gerald Graff.
Norton, 224 pp., £13.95, March 1993, 0 393 03424 0
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... Thanks to David Mamet’s new play Oleanna, the distracted, bumbling and self-regarding male professor has now become the archetypal victim of political correctness. Mamet’s John is victimised by Carol, the ultimate female intellectual mediocrity who gets her revenge on his patronising didacticism by turning him in to the university tenure committee on grounds of sexual impropriety. Professors beware ...
25 February 1993
Revolutionary France, 1770-1880 
by François Furet, translated by Antonia Nevill.
Blackwell, 630 pp., £40, December 1992, 0 631 17029 4
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... In 1989, François Furet was frequently hailed (or criticised, depending on the context) as the ‘king’ of the Bicentenary of the French Revolution. He seemed to be everywhere, on television, in the newspapers, and adorning the pages of almost every glossy magazine. Foreign reporters featured him in pieces on the celebration. Even his absence from the international scholarly meeting at the Sorbonne ...

Mother’s Boys

David A. Bell

10 June 1993
The Family Romance of the French Revolution 
by Lynn Hunt.
Routledge, 220 pp., £19.99, September 1992, 0 415 08236 6
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... the freedom to speculate on what occurred in France between 1789 and 1799 without having to drag yet another suspect into the dock on suspicion of revolutionary activity has been all to the good. LynnHunt’s new book, The Family Romance of the French Revolution, is a case in point. Hunt, best known for her work on revolutionary political culture, has now turned to a subject which, almost by ...

Un Dret Egal

David A. Bell: Political Sentiment

15 November 2007
Inventing Human Rights: A History 
by Lynn Hunt.
Norton, 272 pp., £15.99, April 2007, 978 0 393 06095 9
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... If you want to understand the origins of modern human rights legislation, LynnHunt claims, the place to start is not the philosophical background, or the crises that the legislation addressed, but 18th-century fiction. The path she follows is not obvious, by any means – ...

A Touchy Lot

Lynn Hunt: Libelling for a Living

11 March 2010
The Devil in the Holy Water, or, The Art of Slander from Louis XIV to Napoleon 
by Robert Darnton.
Pennsylvania, 534 pp., £23, December 2009, 978 0 8122 4183 9
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Policing Public Opinion in the French Revolution: The Culture of Calumny and the Problem of Free Speech 
by Charles Walton.
Oxford, 348 pp., £32.50, February 2009, 978 0 19 536775 1
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... There is no doubt an art of political slander, as Robert Darnton terms it, and in many places something like what Charles Walton calls a ‘culture of calumny’. But in what ways are they particular to a time and place? How different, for example, are the charges of lesbianism and Machiavellian manoeuvring levelled against Hillary Clinton from those published two centuries earlier against Marie Antoinette ...
23 March 1995
Telling the Truth about History 
by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob.
Norton, 322 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 0 393 03615 4
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... has also been controversy over proposed national standards for history education, drawn up with the participation of hundreds of scholars and every major professional association of history teachers. Lynn Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has condemned the plan because, among other things, George Washington is mentioned less frequently than Harriet Tubman, who led ...
16 August 1990
A History of Private Life. Vol IV: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War 
edited by Michelle Perrot, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 713 pp., £29.95, April 1990, 0 674 39978 1
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Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 
by Alain Corbin, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Harvard, 478 pp., £31.50, April 1990, 0 674 95543 9
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... For all these limitations, however, what does emerge very successfully from this volume is the unprecedented degree to which the public sphere invaded private life after 1789. For the Jacobins, as LynnHunt describes in a good opening chapter, the family was chiefly valuable as the forge of a virtuous citizenry. Happy mothers would bear children for the republic, breastfeed them, brainwash them ...


Linda Colley: Global History

26 September 2013
The French Revolution in Global Perspective 
edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson.
Cornell, 240 pp., £16.50, April 2013, 978 0 8014 7868 0
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... in non-European commodities such as tobacco and calico. Perhaps half of all Frenchmen condemned to the galleys between 1685 and 1791 were incarcerated for participating in the underground economy. Hunt also touches on extra-European commerce, and on French traders’ conspicuous success in it immediately before and after the outbreak of the revolution. Between 1787 and 1792, the French had more ...

Fallen Idols

David A. Bell

23 July 1992
The Fabrication of Louis XIV 
by Peter Burke.
Yale, 242 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 300 05153 0
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... Plessis – exist? Didn’t the narratives invent him ...?’). We would then have been deprived of Burke’s valuable and entertaining exercise in historical debunking. Yet the book also lacks what LynnHunt in particular has brought to bear on what might be called ‘The Fabrication of the French Revolution’: a sophisticated perspective on the way texts and symbols interact with deeply-grounded ...

Inky Scraps

Maya Jasanoff: ‘Atlantic Families’

5 August 2010
Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later 18th Century 
by Sarah Pearsall.
Oxford, 294 pp., £61, November 2008, 978 0 19 953299 5
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... by what right could white men – their equals in feeling if nothing else – enslave them? Sancho’s letters persuaded their many British readers to see the slave trade as morally problematic. As LynnHunt has argued, it was no coincidence that the rise of the novel and the rise of what would later be called ‘human rights’ occurred in tandem: learning to feel for people on the page was ...

Collected Works

Angus Calder

5 January 1989
Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 
by Mary Blewett.
Illinois, 444 pp., $29.95, July 1988, 0 252 01484 7
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Men’s Lives 
by Peter Matthiessen.
Collins Harvill, 335 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 00 272519 3
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On Work: Historical, Comparative and Theoretical Approaches 
edited by R.E. Pahl.
Blackwell, 752 pp., £39.95, July 1988, 9780631157625
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Slavery and Other Forms of Unfree Labour 
edited by Léonie Archer.
Routledge, 307 pp., £28, August 1988, 0 415 00203 6
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The Historical Meanings of Work 
edited by Patrick Joyce.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £27.50, September 1987, 0 521 30897 6
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Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590-1710 
by David Stevenson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 521 35326 2
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... Why did women continue to monopolise stitching for more than half a century after factory work began in the shoe industry? Because of a division of labour established in the 18th century. The town of Lynn was a small producer of shoes for market by 1750. Demand rose with resistance to British trade regulations, encouraging New England ‘patriots’ to buy local products. Just after the War of ...

Fatal Non-Readers

Hilary Mantel: Marie-Antoinette

30 September 1999
The Wicked Queen: The Origins of the Myth of Marie-Antoinette 
by Chantal Thomas, translated by Julie Rose.
Zone, 255 pp., £17.95, June 1999, 0 942299 39 6
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... Man, rolled into a sheaf, is the people’s phallus. But what can be born of this union? What can come from the stranger’s womb other than monsters? In The Family Romance of the French Revolution, LynnHunt explored the pamphlet literature in detail and observed all its contradictions. How can a vain, half-educated and frivolous woman become a ‘political tarantula’, and exercise a demonic ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair

23 January 1997
Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... deadline, after a £100,000 investment, requires a certain amount of polyfilla prose.) Mr Nice, the working-class boyo, penetrated the middle classes, beginning with the ‘rivetingly glamorous Lynn Barber’, a future journalist who never forgot the experience. Onward and upward: bent aristos, dopers with great collections of blues records. A brief affair with the daughter of the champion of ...


Barbara Everett

2 April 1987
... what we can only think of as ‘human nature’. For there is something even in Hubert’s wholly gentle and affectionate stalking of the young animal that has its helpless parallel in the horrible hunt for the fugitive child himself at the end of the story. Cruelty and savagery are woven into the action, and are inseparable from human love. This intrinsic quality of the ‘altering’ that is the ...

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