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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 in July of that year merited a comment in Le Monde ...

The centre fights back

Lynn Hunt, 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 ...

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 (leaving aside for the moment the rather different outcomes for the two women)? True, Hillary was not accused of committing incest with her child, but she was linked with various financial scandals and even portrayed as ordering the murder of the deputy White House counsel Vince Foster (who committed suicide in 1993) in order to cover up her transgressions ...

Sometimes a Cigar Is More Than a Cigar

David Nokes, 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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... Almost all the contributors to The Invention of Pornography, a volume of essays edited by Lynn Hunt, 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 fascination with exposed female flesh, there is an implicit ...

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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... yet another suspect into the dock on suspicion of revolutionary activity has been all to the good. Lynn Hunt’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, Lynn Hunt 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 – particularly as she has not chosen the fiction that most directly confronted issues of injustice (Candide, say, or Montesquieu’s Persian Letters ...

More Pasts Than One

Eric Foner, 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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... 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 groups of slaves to freedom before the Civil War. Ms Cheney ...

Sweet Homes and Tolerant Houses

Linda Colley, 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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... degree to which the public sphere invaded private life after 1789. For the Jacobins, as Lynn Hunt 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, and joyously yield up their husbands and sons for the ...

Wide-Angled

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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... 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 ships in the Indian Ocean than both the Dutch and the ...

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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... Burke’s valuable and entertaining exercise in historical debunking. Yet the book also lacks what Lynn Hunt 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 cultural habits. A case in point is the short shrift ...

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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... letters persuaded their many British readers to see the slave trade as morally problematic. As Lynn Hunt 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 analogous to learning to feel for people in situations one ...

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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... from the stranger’s womb other than monsters? In The Family Romance of the French Revolution, Lynn Hunt 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 cleverness in affairs of state? But no one at the time 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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... 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 Independence, in 1784, a protective tariff helped the young ...

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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... 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 the English Revolution, Christopher Hill, Master of ...

Philistines

Barbara Everett, 2 April 1987

... 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 growing-up into an adult estate is brought home by a ...

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