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I always felt guns were repugnant: sinister, mean. Sending an orderly to borrow an elephant rifle raises the already excited expectations of the crowd that has gathered to watch the spectacle:. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him.

It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant, comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery … I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, and with that pre-occupied grandmotherly air that elephants have. Finally, both men fire rounds of shots into their doomed creatures, killing them as incompetently as you and I might, if we could carry it out, in a frenzy of mindless noise and smoke and bullets, a small-scale devastating carnage.

Neither narrator offers any sense of concern for these animals. This pairing was also present in the crest of English soldier Captain John Smith, who established a permanent colony in Virginia in In Orientalism , Edward Said evaluates the rise of philology and the nineteenth-century interest in histories and cultural implications of language. Among the English were Edward William Lane, a translator and Arabic lexicographer, and the explorer Richard Burton, a linguist who worked as a cartographer and spy for the East India Company.

After the procession he restored them to their proper place and remained in bed many days before he recovered from the effects of this foolish and disgusting act. Lane admits in his book to not being present at the procession described. At odds with the ethnocentrism of his peers and critical of British colonial policies, Burton relied on direct contact with other cultures.

He also seemed to acquire languages easily, apparently able to communicate in twenty-nine European, Asian and African languages, with a proficiency in several Indian dialects as well as Persian and Arabic. Additionally, he kept a menagerie of tame monkeys with the intention of learning their language. India and the Orient occupy a complicated place in European western experience. Bordering Europe it was the location of its earliest and most profitable colonies. As the site of the Biblical lands, it is the source of its civilization and languages.

At the same time, for colonialism, the Orient marks a mutually exclusive distinction between two separate worlds. Said shows how the early Orientalists provided a setting for subsequent studies almost entirely congruent with the interests of imperial institutions and governments. In the years between the late eighteenth century and the end of World War I, Europe had colonized 85 percent of the world, with a dramatic effect on domestic aspects of national interest.

Such concepts, shaped on the printed page in vernacular national languages, were the impetus for all kinds of imaginary citizenship, shared popular sovereignty, national flags and anthems. Print-literacy helped to establish the invented traditions that could define a new national authority.

Nations began to think of their own culture as equal to the ancients, and to impose this onto others.

Carnage, constellation

By the late eighteenth century, comparative language studies brought knowledge of Sanskrit and the awareness that Indic culture was far older than Greece or Judaea. Studies of comparative grammar followed, often involving the speculative reconstructions of proto-languages. The nineteenth century was a golden age for lexicographers, grammarians and folklorists, in a Europe in which Latin had been defeated by vernacular print-capitalism. So-called languages of state were now manifest in the vernacular languages of its citizens and connected to a rapaciously expanding print market.

Empire propaganda was being published on pages of decimated Canadian forest. The demands for pulp and paper were directly connected to the mass-circulation of daily newspapers, and mass media made a great impact on public opinion in cities such as London and New York. In his book Empire and Communications , Innis explores this as a feature common to all empires. When the Romans conquered Egypt, supplies of papyrus became the basis of a large administration empire. The nineteenth-century growth of literacy and print technology is historically consistent with that.

Among surviving fragments from Greco-Roman Egypt, literature — including Homer and Aristophanes — is far outweighed by contracts, tax receipts and property-sale documents. By the nineteenth century, these kinds of writing are still the bulk of what remains, but journalism and fiction have become an additional instrument of imperialism, another way to colonise ideas and social space. But his darkest and most compelling stories are a form of colonial gothic that seems to emerge from his own perversely irrepressible attraction to everything the imperialist fears most in the shadowy hostile corners of colonial life.

Kipling is a master of the deceptive affairs of language. Generally avoiding first-person accounts, he tends to invent fictional characters as narrators of his stories, while the protagonists, often members of the Anglo-Indian community, are self-projections based on personal experience. Trejago saw the meaning of the little bit of glass.

The pinch of bhusa enlightened Trejago. Trejago begins a secretive relationship with Bisesa, and when her uncle finds out he punishes his niece. The stroke missed his body, but cut into one of the muscles of the groin, and he limped slightly from the wound for the rest of his days. Gelb refers to a package sent from a young woman in Eastern Turkestan to her lover. By the twentieth century, the focus shifts to language as a living system, the human implications of its social uses and the relationship between language and thinking.

The Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure provides a stimulating connection between the old and the new. As a nineteenth century student of philology, he proposed a theory of ghost phonemes surviving in the recesses of the human mouth. Reaching back to its fossilised origins he discovers a live signal. If this was a relationship that Saussure took for granted, others after him have investigated what it means to be thought by language, focusing on the system itself. Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, students of Franz Boas and therefore associated with the rise of the anthropologist-linguist, followed language through its functional basis — a socially contextualised use of language that begins with discourse.

This is language in its indexical mode, mapping out bodies, places and time as components of the exchange: a package of things, a collection of objects transferred between persons, symbolic and with equivalence-based associations, making connections both physical and illicit. Christina Broom, Kit of an Irish Guardsman laid out for inspection, c. For kit-inspection, British soldiers are required to make a precise formal presentation of their uniforms, equipment and bedding.

These have often been photographed for reference, appearing in manuals or on the wall of a barrack block. For many years, Broom was assisted by her daughter Winifred. He died on the second day of the Battle of Loos, September Kipling was the historian of those now forgotten Irish who were loyal to the Empire, articulating in his writing a dream of empire, almost a masterful dream-work of condensation, with its colonies, different from each other in history, culture and language, threaded together into one vision, solely by virtue of their belonging to the Empire.

But written as an intricate web of literary double-agency it is also a cold-war spy thriller. It tells the story of British military intelligence gathering in Tibet and India in a colonial bid to resist Indian nationalists and the rival imperialism of Russia. The novel features a spectacular diversity of language, mainly because Kim is being trained to think of language as a bodily medium through which intelligence is gathered. Like Kipling, Kim is born in India in An Irish regimental son, he lives on the street and prefers the look and language of a low-caste Hindu boy.

Using other dialects and costumes, he is able to switch identity across the spectrum of Indian social life. By the end of his story, Kim has reached the weather-beaten age of seventeen, and is already beyond the art of disguises. Under the shape-shifting sign of language, he is also a master of identities. In various ways, so are his teachers and fellow spies. All of the prominent characters in Kim are British agents involved in the so-called Great Game, a political and diplomatic confrontation, a cold war that prevailed for most of the nineteenth century between Britain and Russia.

A child tending cattle had picked it up from a brother or sister on the far side of the slope that commanded Chini valley. Conolly was executed in by the Emir of Bukhara on charges of spying for the British Empire. Knowledge-producing institutions like the British Museum, The Royal Geographical Society, the India Survey and the universities were enlisted to establish a fantasy model for an empire maintained not by force but information.

Surveying, mapping, gathering statistics and data, organising it across ledgers, charts and archives as if that could somehow hold the fragmented parts together. As an accumulative fiction, however, the British Empire was far more easily managed in the form of a novel such as Kim. His Indian stories are inflected with phrases from local languages and dialects.

Kipling follows a similar approach with British dialects, though these are based in his own first language of English. You dhrive Jehannum ke marfik, mallum—like Hell? Av he bolos anything, just you choop and chel. Go arsty for the first arder—mile from cantonmints.


Aggressively opposed to Irish Home Rule, by he was calling for civil war and channelling his language skills into writing songs for the volunteers. How was the first letter written? It is now generally agreed that writing was invented in Mesopotamia, present-day Iraq, in the late fourth millennium BC, and spread from there to Egypt, Elam and the Indus Valley. The idea that Mesopotamian writing emerged from collections of objects is new.

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For thousands of years the origin of writing was the subject of myths crediting heroic gods and fabulous creatures with its invention. By the eighteenth century it was believed to have begun with picture writing. But the immediate precursor of cuneiform writing was a system of tokens: small clay objects of many shapes — cones, spheres, disks, cylinders — that served as counters and can be traced to the Neolithic period, starting around BC.

They evolved to meet the needs of the economy, at first keeping track of the products of farming. Excavated in the s from Nuzi in Northern Iraq, a hollow tablet together with a flat tablet bearing an account of the same transaction were discovered in the family archive of a sheep owner named Puhisenni. When opening the hollow tablet, the excavators found it to hold forty-nine counters, which, as stipulated in the text, corresponded to the number of animals listed. The first letter may have been a clay counter. Bowl of a briarwood pipe, serrated at the edge; much worn and blackened; bound with string at the crew.

Two patent-lever keys; wards of both broken. Imitation crocodile-skin notebook with pencil. First forty-five pages blank; four and a half illegible; fifteen others filled with private memoranda relating chiefly to three persons—a Mrs. Handle of small-sized hunting-knife. Blade snapped short. My apparatus was a coconut shell strung on a red cord, a tin trunk and piece of packing-case which kept off any other world. Above all, Empire is about financial profit and the establishing or claiming of value. Reminiscent of stories like that of the Tierra del Fuegian boy Jemmy Button, bought, and so named in by Captain Robert Fitzroy for a handful of mother-of-pearl buttons.

Bond, a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, was born in and died in It was in the service of accountancy that writing was invented. Lead castings of Roman capitals, ligatures, fleurons and punctuation have been replaced with symbols of a lower status: bent hooks, torn fabrics, a few copper coins and some old rope. The only working part of the puzzle is the deadly function of the nail. Such signs of excess and collapse, essential to any understanding of how our world attempts to function, could not have been lost on F.

What could express the accumulations of an imperial nation better than a few tired examples of its debris? In this case spelling out the grim memento of a once regal bird with a typography of rubble. The earliest fables are believed to be Mesopotamian, and the tradition is that animal life is replaced by an index of human characteristics, offering moral guidance indirectly to individuals, family and community. Both Aesop and the Roman fable writer Phaedrus were former slaves, and Greco-Roman fables are often interpreted as the voice of oppressed human classes.

Kay Robinson championed the photography of animals over their collection for museums and zoos, at least partly connecting his interests to those of FW Bond, whose photographs he would have been aware of. It is the only occasion on which Moore invokes a visit to the zoo, where the animals appear faded, humdrum and abnormal. Fed in their cages, they are like prisoners in a concentration camp.

The cat declares the ultimate indignity of being imprisoned by a society. Paul Elliman UK lives and works in London. Robin Walz, who invited Robert Janes to a meeting of the Western Society a decade ago, picks up the tale in its most recent incarnation. Especially attuned to the details of daily life, Janes shows how conditions in France have deteriorated by the third year of its occupation. The Germans are now aware that their hold on their conquered territories is growing more tenuous. The series and two new titles have already been announced therefore offers a finely tuned picture of France during its dark years.

The French produce countless historical dramas for sure not all masterpieces or even useful , illustrating episodes of French history or adapting literary classics, but they are only available with English subtitles on Air France flights or on TV5 Monde-USA, and, much more rarely, through a Canadian release. TV5 Monde solicits the subtitles for some of these dramas, and hence owns the rights to them, but refuses to issue DVDs. Those of us who teach French history, therefore, remain prisoners of what gets subtitled and formatted for region 1, although FFFH sometimes strays beyond these limits, hoping to encourage the transfer from old VHS tapes to DVDs or to make subtitled streaming available on these shores.

As we begin another year, we return to the familiar grounds of Vichy France but with a twist. Although only a modest success when it opened last year in France, Les Hommes libres offers, to my mind, an excellent depiction of how one joined the Resistance, be it as an Algerian fighting for future freedom or not. You will find a French excerpt at this link. In their reviews, Colin Jones and Don Sutherland show why these novels deserve to be taken seriously by historians. A Place of Greater Safety is not only a literary tour de force and masterpiece of historical research, Jones argues, but it also challenges the standard version of the Terror by stressing the similarities between Danton and Robespierre and by turning the insufferable Desmoulins into a likable character.

Don Sutherland is less indulgent toward Les dieux ont soif until its central character becomes a judge on the Revolutionary Tribunal. In our buzz feature, Aurore Chery examines the transformation in recent years of the representation of the French Revolution on television. Louis XVI, once treated as bumbling fool, has acquired new gravitas while a quirky little series, et demi , focuses on the forgotten subjects of the Old Regime: women, Jews, and Blacks, eschewing the great events of the day.

Chery has convinced me that despite its high jinks and what I took to be its presentist mindest, the series depicts many aspects of the new historiography. Definitely worth a detour. Sex, Drugs, and Literature, by David Caron. G Sutherland. The release of an Umberto Eco novel is always an event and when the book is set in nineteenth-century France, we take special notice. The Prague Cemetery closes with the connivance of continental secret services in the concoction of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion that purported to reveal a Jewish conspiracy for world domination.

Contents of Ostrich’s Stomach

Eco gets us there through the diaries of a schizophrenic anti-hero s , an Italian forger who has taken refuge in France and drifted from revolutionary to right-wing circles. The multiple-personality device, as Steven Englund makes plain, proves cumbersome, deflecting attention from late-nineteenth-century anti-Semitism to fractured identities with Freud making, unfortunately, an all-too-brief appearance. The silver-lining might be to stimulate our students to investigate these questions more fully. They are patroling the North Atlantic bound for Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, the bleak remains of empire, and they have yet to process fully their changed circumstances.

It is this last point that lends the film its significance. Despite the mesmerizing image of Jacques Perrin in his spotless white uniform with his black cat on his shoulder, the film offers no glib judgment on the loss of empire. Based on a novel set in the American heartland, the plot makes no claims to realism, but, as Alice Conklin points out, Tavernier masterfully captures the look and feel of Africa, its prewar deadbeat White settlers, their racism and violence.

Like the other reviewers in this issue, she offers a sensational analysis of the work, while approaching the film as a teaching tool and pointing out what will be evident to students from the first and what might need explaining. Forty or so versions of The Three Musketeers on film since , some, admittedly loose adaptations or cartoons, but a plethora of choices from which, to my mind, only one version is worth salvaging, the Richard Lester film and its sequel.

Since the world has not been waiting with baited breath for yet another Hollywood spin on the Dumas classic, Paul Anderson has not offered one. Yet usurpation is perhaps no better than Dumas deserves, having himself claimed full authorship of a work written with the aid of Auguste Maquet. To read the review…. I was particularly aware of the pitfalls as I watched two new French films. This latest Joan is a lost and devastated young woman whose voices have abandoned her and who therefore refuses to speak.

Highly literate yet remarkably lively, the film offers us a way of approaching the Revolution without sacrificing its complexities. Now, all we need, is for the subtitled version available on YouTube to be dependably marketed. Dumas for Dummies, by Liana Vardi. It is our great luck that Woody Allen has chosen to ride the crest of this wave with a fond look at the city and the days when Americans came in droves to fulfill their artistic dreams.

In managing to bring this particular moment of the past and present together in so entertaining a fashion, Woody Allen has offered those of us who teach the history of Paris on North American campuses a great vehicle for discussion, as Jeff Jackson demonstrates. The fascination, one should note, is mutual, and the French remain as mesmerized by Manhattan as Americans by the City of Lights. To The Hermitage Cross-cultural encounters permeate this issue, although by accident rather than conscious decision. The juxtaposition allows Bradbury to address both the Enlightenment and its critics and, as Kent Wright argues in his illuminating review, to offer his own rejoinder.

He was not alone, moreover, in believing that fiction offered the best vehicle for a sympathetic rendering of the Enlightenment. The novel combines tongue-in-cheek pastiche of academic wrangles and eighteenth-century literature with realistic narrative, and can therefore be read and hence taught on multiple levels.

Like David Lodge, Bradbury brings to his romps a profound literary knowledge and his novel is as good a guide as any to the literary currents of the late twentieth century. Unlike Woody Allen who, in juxtaposing two eras, asks that we distance ourselves from an imaginary past, Bradbury uses the juxtaposition to bring us into the past.

The cultural changes that accompanied the French economic miracle fascinated and worried observers who depicted a young generation adrift amidst the plenty. Characters roam about unmoored, seeking to affirm their existence through appearance, seeking their reflection in mirrors. The films therefore provide fodder for discussions of French post-war prosperity against the backdrop of the Cold War and Algerian War, gender, consumerism, and selfhood.

The film as a whole, we are warned, requires careful framing, but those very pitfalls can induce fruitful discussions. Longer films such as this one can now be assigned, at minimal cost, for home viewing and thus permit comparison with documentaries. Haussmann or the Distinction It is hard to imagine, come a certain age, having to finish a novel one does not like, as was the case with our present reviewer. Skeptics might keep in mind the paucity of novels about haussmannization.

That the romance turns sour is yet another reminder of the allegorical nature of this work. The playfulness includes pastiches of the nineteenth-century French novel with its obsession with the corrupt and hypocritical mores of the Second Empire. Paul La Farge did not write his novel with French historians in mind but, once one accepts the leap into fiction and reliance on metaphor, one can appreciate the cleverness of its conceit and, if one is so inclined, ask students what they make of this treatment of the rebuilding of Paris — that watershed moment, as David Jordan reminds us, not only in French but in world history.

Army of Shadows and Lacombe, Lucien Why people chose to join the Resistance is a question that historians must strive to answer, and they do so with caution and trepidation because there is no simple answer. If fiction offers far greater freedom to speculate on the motivations of resisters, two of the most potent films to grapple with this issue, Army of Shadows and Lacombe, Lucien, jettison a psychological approach.

The first presumes that resistance was necessary and focuses on the moral dilemmas such engagement posed for participants; the second famously proposes that the decision to resist or to collaborate was the result of circumstances rather than ideological commitment. Whether one agrees with this proposition or not, Lacombe, Lucien just like Army of Shadows, raises the important question of choice and what it entailed, as our two specialists demonstrate.

Students like to imagine how they would have responded and need sophisticated ways to think about it. Michael Lonsdale plays Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit, rector of the Paris Mosque, who saw it as his humanitarian duty to hide Jews and resisters, and Tahar Rahim, of The Prophet fame, a young Algerian who drifts, somewhat Lucien Lacombe-like, into collaboration before experiencing moral qualms and a change of heart.

An Unreconstructed Haussmann, by David P. No one could have predicted that a late seventeenth-century noblewoman would become one of the most intensely charged symbols in early twenty-first-century France. Madame de Lafayette, as she is generally referred to, is best known as the author of The Princess of Cleves, which is held up by literary historians as the first modern novel for its psychological and historical realism, and is today a pillar of the French literary canon. At a campaign event in February , the then-candidate declared:.

The other day, for fun — we take whatever fun we can get — I looked through the syllabus for the civil service examination to become an administrative assistant. Just imagine the spectacle! In late , his government reduced the number of questions on literary culture in the entrance examinations for the two lowest categories of civil servants the weighting of literary culture for high civil servants remained unchanged. We have reached the limits of a sterile elitism. I would prefer instead to find candidates whose skills are tailored to the position, rather than overqualified people who are not necessarily at their place.

But the civil service should contribute to upward social mobility, integration and should reflect the population as a whole. That writers, intellectuals and university humanities departments cried foul is no surprise. Publishers have noted a marked increase in sales of the novel since Sarkozy made his remarks: Livre de Poche reported that sales of the novel doubled in , and Folio enjoyed a comparable increase in It would make an eminently teachable moment in courses on modern France or classical French literature.

Its contours, intensity and longevity not only lay bare important features of French culture, but point to crucial points of tension in contemporary French society. A number of important broader debates have crystallized around the novel. Is French national identity founded on a literary tradition? But it will be necessary for it to remain so.

This perhaps constitutes one of the reasons for his vertiginous drop in popularity. No relation at all. This phrase did however make it possible for the novel to become a bestseller again. Sarkozy has no idea what great dreams culture can inspire. The violence of the battlefield, magnificently depicted, is replicated in the violent passions that the beautiful princess arouses and feels herself.

Whereas Mme de Lafayette wrote a terse morality tale, warning both of the torments and evanescence of love, Tavernier expands it to the broader canvas of aristocratic culture, one in which contractual marriages and the demands of war force young men and women to grow up fast. Survival depends on overcoming temptation and developing inner strength.

Taking his cue from Mme de Lafayette, Tavernier shows how beauty and renown play foul with such demands. Tavernier deems the original story essentially anachronistic, even ahistorical; is he guilty of the same thing, or worse? Duelling Films Dueling had no set rules in the sixteenth century, Tavernier informs us in his commentary to La princesse de Montpensier. The Duellists and Tomorrow at Dawn , the one set during the Napoleonic Wars and the second in modern-day France among Napoleonic re-enactors, are firmly ensconced within the codes of honor that came to regulate such encounters.

Against the real, gruesome and uncontrollable violence of warfare, men were able to settle their real or imagined grievances according to a set scenario whose outcome, of course, remained uncertain. The escalating cycle of violence between these combatants, like that among nations, had to end somehow.

Both films, although set in different eras, address this question and ask us to think about our atavistic impulses and how past and present cultures handle them. In doing so, the films take us beyond the Napoleonic era to engage students on multiple levels and stimulate broad-ranging discussions, ones that could cover anything from historical accuracy to role playing video games.

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Apart from public interest, historians continue to debate its significance in defining the nature of French absolutism. Filmmakers, too, have been attracted by its interpretive possibilities. Although both approach the issue by focusing on a close associate of the king, their perspectives could hardly be more different. The spectacular Le roi danse The King is Dancing uses the life of the court composer of ballets, Gianbattista Lully, to showcase how the young Louis used lavish cultural displays to enhance his royal prestige.

As our reviewers duly note, however, both are rather narrow, even distorted visions. Duelling Films, by Howard G. When faced with a choice, the Duke of Choiseul did not hesitate to bargain with Britain to keep the sugar colonies of the Caribbean instead. After all, Saint-Domingue was rapidly becoming the most lucrative colony in the western hemisphere. Is truth then stranger than fiction or is this a matter of perspective?

The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Revolt of the Angels, by ANATOLE FRANCE.

Since the above productions did not have the classroom in mind, but a public of their own choosing, it is churlish to complain. On the other hand, and despite their own anachronisms, we suggest two movies that would work well, or have already worked well, in courses covering the Old Regime.

Both films appeared in and both reflected contemporary trends in scholarship on the Enlightenment. How often can that be said of periodized costume dramas? Ridicule may caricature late eighteenth-century courtiers, but it provocatively raises issues of contested gender roles both male and female , royal representations, and the often confusing idea of an aristocratic elite divided between enlightened reformers and self-interested grandees.

After all, his personal story is true and fashionable too. Neither Saint nor Whore, by Liana Vardi. Kaiser and Lisa Jane Graham. Outside the Law Hors la loi is one of a number of recent French films dealing with the Algerian War. Mon colonel , Laurent Herbier, director revisits the use of torture through the eyes of a traumatized French lieutenant. Despite being shot in Algeria, the film focuses on the French experience.

The TV drama Nuit noire [English version: October 17, ] , Alain Tasma, director depicts the events leading up to the infamous massacre of demonstrators in Paris in from multiple perspectives: that of the policemen all the way from the hapless victim of reprisals to Prefect of Police Maurice Papon who organizes the repression , members of the FLN who are divided on tactics , French supporters of the Algerian cause, and innocent bystanders caught in events. Set mainly in the 18 th arrondissement, it offers glimpses of the Nanterre bidonville.

Outside the Law takes us even further into the heart of the bidonville. Whether the rendition is accurate or not, an issue our reviewer addresses, the film gives us new ways of discussing the war, exile, and terrorism with our students. I have loved its extraordinary recreation of Europe in Although the plot revolves around the erasure of polygamy from Jewish practices in the West, it is the descriptions of early medieval Paris that took my breath away and the way that Yehoshua connects the city to the trading networks of the Mediterranean.

If not the entire novel then selected chapters can certainly enrich a course on the History of Paris, among others. It does not offer the complete panorama of The Hunchback of Notre Dame or the courtly intrigues of Les rois maudits. Rather it is a miniature brought to life. By interweaving personal struggles to cope with the moral challenges created by the Visigoths of the 5 th century, the bubonic plague of the 14 th century, and the Nazi ascendancy of the 20 th century, renowned author Iain Pears raises timeless questions about the relationship between individuals and the larger values that uphold civic life.

His novel inspires our reviewer to imagine some other intriguing courses. For hundreds of years, the notion of France included overseas territories. It still does. The French colonial empire was at its height between the First and Second World Wars, so it is fitting that various film-makers have chosen that period as a suitable moment to explore the French presence in south-east Asia. How much of the complexity of that presence can be captured by a film, especially one intended for a popular audience? Big-budget and star-led productions such as Indochine and The Sea Wall confront serious challenges when it comes to telling a colonial story.

How do the films and novels compare? Our expert reviewers respond by exploring the historical complexity represented — or not — in these dramatic depictions. To read the reviews…. Murray Levine and Eric T. The Haitian Revolution as Theme The revolutionary events in Saint Domingue that gave birth to an independent Haiti in have finally begun to take their proper place in French history. In the decades of relative neglect, despite a few pathbreaking works mentioned by our reviewers, fiction took up the slack.

In this issue historians return to this literary heritage to examine what it added and can continue to add to our understanding of the Haitian Revolution. So many of us are now including Haiti in our lectures or devoting whole courses to it, that a broad review of the fictionalized treatment of the event seemed in order. The fiction speaks for itself, but in doing so it both inspires and requires historical inquiry.

The story, part history, part chick-lit, is told from the perspective of a female slave who, after the defeat of the first Haitian uprising, which she helped to organize, is taken to Cuba and then to New Orleans by the master she foolishly rescues. This broad canvas allows Allende to examine cultural transfers of African music, religion, and practices to the New World, both in a plantation setting and in the peculiar French, Spanish, American, and African milieu of New Orleans in the early s.

Does her tale stand up to recent scholarship? An historian responds. To read the review. Historians have reason to doubt whether the slave revolt of was started by white men, or yellow fever deliberately used to preserve black independence in