Lynn Hunt: Libelling for a Living, 11 March 2010
Show More 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 9Show More
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 1Show More
“... 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 ...”