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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Spleen (II)  -  Baudelaire

More than if I had lived a thousand years!

No chest of drawers crammed with documents, 
love-letters, wedding-invitations, wills,
a lock of someone's hair rolled up in a deed, 
hides so many secrets as my brain.
This branching catacombs, this pyramid 
contains more corpses than the potter's field:
I am a graveyard that the moon abhors,
where long worms like regrets come out to feed
most ravenously on my dearest dead.
I am an old boudoir where a rack of gowns, 
perfumed by withered roses, rots to dust; 
where only faint pastels and pale Bouchers 
inhale the scent of long-unstoppered flasks.

Nothing is slower than the limping days 
when under the heavy weather of the years
Boredom, the fruit of glum indifference, 
gains the dimension of eternity . . . 
Hereafter, mortal clay, you are no more
than a rock encircled by a nameless dread,
an ancient sphinx omitted from the map, 
forgotten by the world, and whose fierce moods 
sing only to the rays of setting suns.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Vol. II of the Reader, Available Now!

There will be one more reading from Vol. I of the Liberté anthology, then we shall move onto Vol. II!

It is finally available, printed at cost HERE.

OR, download it for FREE HERE

Excitement has visibly lagged for the past few weeks, and admittedly the texts for the recent readings have not been terribly evocative--a result partly of time contraints when I was assembling it, and partly of the fact that the complete political, economic, and social instability of the period that it covers were not conducive to the kinds of experiments--literary, political, metaphysical, technological--that would begin to proliferate after Bonaparte's fall.

Vol. II, I hope, will be much, much more engaging.

At 450 pages, it is longer than many of us will have time to read in its entirety, at least at the pace that we will be moving. So I'll reiterate again that even if you can't read and/or respond to everything, we'd love to have your thoughts on whatever does catch your fancy.

While Vol. I contains pretty standard texts that treat the broad swath of French culture at the time, Vol. II is a very different thing. It traces the development of mass culture, but also the emergence of the avant-garde and other underground subcultures. It follows the trajectory of government after the July Revolution, but also the socialist, utopian, and proto-anarchist resistances to it. It represents the big names like Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, but also texts not printed in English for over a century. It includes passages of 65 texts by 38 different people, and images by another 67 visual artists.

For those of you who have followed, to some degree, my own research into the early avant-garde, this anthology includes about 100 pages of poetry, manifestos, and memoirs by the first generation avant-garde, including some material translated into English for the first time ever.

There has been something of a crunch in the reading-schedule, in part because I've been living on trains and busses for the past week, and because putting this book together was an exhausting--though rewarding--marathon effort which left me with little time or energy to keep things moving here on the blog as I ought to have done. We'll begin reading it next week, along with the final 30 pages of Vol. I. So if you happen to have some spare time, you may want to get a head start.

Because they were written in a more-or-less sleep deprived state, the introductions and captions are therefore riddled with typos (to be fixed in a later edition); but they are much more extensive than in Vol. I, and designed to suggest various areas of interesting research and exploration that have not made it into the anthology itself.

This has been an exhausting joy to assemble, and represents a vision of French culture during the July Monarchy that I believe is unique in English; I hope that it will spark your curiosity and and lead us all to understandings of the period that I have not yet imagined!

Reading #5: The Bourbon Restoration: The Charter of 1815, Tocqueville, Stendhal, and Gautier on Géricault

I've been travelling for the past week, and will be continuing through the weekend, so I've had little time to give as much attention to the blog as I'd like. This, in combination with the readings apparently rousing little interest, has kept the Shadow School forum pretty dead, but in case any of you are still following along, we're moving on to the 5th reading, pages 119-155.

This reading addresses the fall of Napoleon, and the restoration of the Throne to King Louis XVIII. After the successive convulsions of the Revolution, the Terror, and the Empire, many hoped that the introduction of a Constitutional Monarchy would maintain peace and stability while at the same time recognising that the vast changes of the past thirty years could not be entirely undone. This hope unravelled very quickly. On the one hand, the concessions to Republican government were minuscule and mostly insignificant, and the fact that the Monarchy was imposed at gunpoint by the allied European powers created a resentment that further fueled the opposition of the left. On the other hand, aristocrats and monarchists returning from exile refused to accept even these token nods toward representative government, resulting in the emergence of the Ultras, or Ultra-Monarchists, who were so hard-line that Louis XVIII faced opposition not only from the left but also subversive plots and rebellions by those who considered the King not to be monarchist enough. At the same time, the pervasive, centralizing bureaucratic system begun during the Revolution and solidified by Bonaparte remained in place and steadily increased in power, resulting in huge increases in the literacy rate and the expansion of a bureaucratic middle class.

The texts in this reading are dry and legalistic, admittedly; it was a period in which law and bureaucracy  were battlefields on which the future of France was being fought, and beneath the surface of a cynical and petty age cultural and political revolutions were preparing to burst forth. 
  • The text from Rousseau addresses the issue of sovereignty: is the King a representative of God and of the 'spirit of the nation' (as Hegel was alleging around this time) to whom his subjects owed unconditional loyalty? Or does he receive his power from his country's citizens, to whom he owes his loyalty?
  • The Constitutional Charter of 1815 was the first document limiting the power of the Monarchy; note, however, the language of the Preamble, in which it is made clear that the King voluntarily cedes some rights to his subjects, but is not required to do so by any legal or natural order. How else does this ambivalence come through in the text?
  • Tocqueville's painstaking investigation of American government and society was the first systematic analysis of a functioning modern democracy, at a time when Democratic principles were not yet universally understood or supported. In France, the route of the Revolution ensured that for many people Democracy was associated with instability and class warfare. What do his observations and comparisons say about the political atmosphere and conditions in France?
  • Stendhal (aka Henri Beyle), whose book on Racine and Shakespeare was a key influence on Romanticist dramatic theory, had been a mid-level bureaucrat in the Napoleonic government, who was eventually dismissed under suspicion of collaborating with the underground Carbonari, and insurrectionary group that began as an anti-Napoleonic movement in Italy (where Beyle was stationed) but soon spread throughout Europe as a network of insurrectionary secret societies. One of the innovators of the Realist novel, Stendhal applied his uncompromising psychological observation and deeply cynical social sensibility to the culture of the competing ruling classes of the Restoration: the re-patriated Church, the resurgent Aristocracy, and the ascending upper bourgeoisie, rich but untitled, who were profiting from the industrial revolution which was now beginning to take hold and transform French life.
  • Thédore Géricault--like Stendhal, Madame de Staël, and Benjamin Constant (who I was not able to include in the reader)--was exploring ways to escape the dominant modes of French culture, and to bring together art, literature, and politics in ways different than Classicism, which had been virtually official forms for two generations in the visual arts and well over a century in literature. Géricault's Raft of the Medusa was a groundbreaking rejection of Classicism. It portrays a moment from a sensational scandal in which incompetent political appointees ran the ship Medusa aground, piled over 100 passengers onto a poorly constructed raft with almost no food or water, then cut the moorings to the officer's boats and left those on the raft to drift for over a week; by the time they were rescued they had degenerated into murder, cannibalism, only 10% of the passengers surviving. Not only was the subject matter a direct indictment of the Restoration government, but it presented this indictment directly and in gruesome detail, not (as Classicism would demand) in the guise of a scene from Greek or Roman  mythology. The scene was grimly contemporary, the dead painted from corpses and body parts transported by Géricault in his studio, and the composition and colour were slaps in the face of the Classical ideas of symmetry and contraint.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reading #4: Napoleon! and Other Updates

Okay, it's been pretty quiet on here lately!

I've been so busy getting the next volume together that I haven't been able to post anything for awhile; and the last reading doesn't seem to have caught anybody's imagination. This one may not either, but let's find out!

So the next reading is pp 83-118, the passage from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables about Waterloo. I have a feeling that this will continue to lie outside many of our main areas of interest, though the Napoleon myth is big enough to contain esoterica. Some potential prompts:

  • Reputedly, Napoleon (like all famous people, reputedly) was a Freemason, which could open up to some fun conspiracy theories and secret societies..
  • I once almost secured for my archive, and then lost the bid on, a book on divination and phrenology that claimed to have been found among Naploeon's manuscripts at Elba after his death. Hmmm...
  • The Carbonari, which began in Italy as an underground resistence-network to the Napoleonic regime, quickly became national scope, and the Italian, French, and German Carbonari groups became a training-ground for revolutionaries who would become important in the European revolutions of 1830 and 1848.
  • There's all kinds of gossip about Napoleon, his background, his love-life, etc. If, of course, we deign to stoop to such petty things! (why not?)

I'll be travelling for the next two weeks so I won't be able to stir things up on the blog very much, but starting in November we'll move onto Vol. II of the reader, which will be posted later this week as PDF or to order the physical book. (The printer's proof is in the mail now.) We'll be beginning Romanticism, getting into the avant-garde, various crazy political cults, and lots of really interesting topics for research. Since we'll be dealing with my own major area of study, we'll be reading a ton of texts that have not been published for over a century, and some stuff which has never been printed in English. So even if the next few weeks remain pretty quiet on the Shadow School front, come November we'll have a renewed push and I have little doubt that some pretty interesting stuff will come out of it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Contents for Vol. II !


Sorry I haven't been able to stir up much discussion on the current reading, I have been (and still am) busy preparing Vol. II of the reader, which we will be moving onto at the end of the month. This volume will be around 350 pages (!!!) long, and as you can see involves many more readings by twice as many different people as the volume we are currently on. Many of the readings are shorter and more targetted. There are many other differences as well, which I hope will make it a more comprehensive and suggestive glimpse into the complexity and diversity of French culture at the period.

 I still have about 40 hours of formatting, copy-editing, image-selection, and writing of introductions and captions to do before the proof goes to the printer in one week, but this is the final Table of Contents for Vol. II, covering 1827-1847:

I.  The Romanticist Revolution

Classicism and Romanticism 
from Nicolas Boilieau, The Art of Poetry (1674)
from Théophile Gautier, A History of Romanticism (1874)
from Victor Hugo, Preface to ‘Cromwell’ (1827)
from Théophile Gautier, Daniel Jovard: the Conversion of a Classicist (1833)

Romanticism and Politics
Pierre-Jean de Béranger, Farewell to the Country (1821)
from Victor Hugo, Preface to Hernani (1830)
from Alphonse Brot, Preface to Songs of Love (1830)
From Philothée O’Neddy (aka Théophile Dondey), Letter to Charles Asselineau (Sept. 23, 1862)

The Struggle for Culture: The Battle of Hernani
from Victor Hugo, Preface to Hernani (1830)
from Théophile Gautier, A History of Romanticism (1872)
Victor Hugo, Hernani, Act I (1830)
from Stendhal, The Red and the Black (1831)
from Théophile Gautier, A History of Romanticism (1872)
Victor Hugo, At the Academy (1850)

II.  The July Revolution and the ‘Citizen King’

from Victor Hugo, Royer-Collard (1843)
                                from Les Miserables 
Pierre-Jean de Béranger, The Tombs of July (1832)
from François Guizot, Speech of February 20, 1831.
from Louis Bourbon X & Ministry, Preamble toThe Charter of 1814
French National Assembly, Preamble to The Charter of 1830
Before & After: from The Charters of 1814 & 1830.

Liberalism vs. Radicalism in the July Monarchy
from François Guizot, Speech of Oct. 5, 1831.
Pierre-Jean de Béranger, The Restoration of Song (1831). 
From Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, History of the Paris Commune of 1871 (1876)

III.  High Culture, Popular Culture, and Counterculture

Poetry of Romanticism
Auguste Barbier, Popularity
Alfred de Musset, On One Dead (1842)
Antony Deschamps, Last Words
Marceline Debords-Valmore, ‘The Roses of Saadi
Elisa Mercoeur, Philosophy

Romanticist Painting
from Théophile Gautier, A History of Romanticism (1874)
Louis Boulanger, To My Friend Charles Saint-Beuve (c.1833)
from Charles Baudelaire, The Salon of 1845.
           The Salon of 1859
The Universal Exhibition (1855)

Romanticism and Popular Culture
From Eugene Sue, The Mysteries of Paris (1842-43)
from Victor Hugo, Notre-Dame of Paris (1831)
from Charles Baudelaire, The Salon of 1845
from Honoré de Balzac, Lost Illusions (1837)
from Victor Hugo, Funeral of Mlle. Mars (1847)
from Robert Harborough Sherard, Alexandre Dumas’ Ghost (1905)
from Charles Baudelaire, The Salon of 1859
from Auguste Maquet and Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
From George Sand, Mauprat (1836)
from Victor Hugo, Han of Iceland (1823)

The Romanticist Avant-Garde
from Théophile Gautier, A History of Romanticism (1872)
From Philothée O’Neddy (aka Théophile Dondey), Letter to Charles Asselineau (Sept. 23, 1862)
Aloysius Bertrand, ‘To Victor Hugo’ (1836)
from The Treasurer of Night (1842)
           ‘The Alchemist’
           ‘The Dead Horse’
           ‘The Salamander’
Gérard de Nerval, Poems (1826-55)
           ‘The Black Spot’
           ‘Lines to a Greek Air’
Petrus Borel, Preface to Rhpsodies (1832)
from Joseph Bouchardy, Letter to Théophile Gautier, Jan. 12, 1857.
Petrus Borel, Hymn to the Sun (1832)
from Prologue to Madame Putiphar 
From Théophile Gautier, The Jeunes-France (1833)
From Joseph Bennett, Hector Berlioz
From Victor Hugo, Preface to Han of Iceland (1823)
from Théophile Gautier, Daniel Jovard: the Conversion of a Classicist (1833)
Anonymous, Review of ‘Champavert’ by Pétrus Borel (1833)
From Béranger, The Restoration of Song (1831)
Philothée O’Neddy, from to Fire and Flame (1833)
           ‘The Fairest Death’
from Théophile Gautier, Preface to Mlle. de Maupin (1835)

Capitalism & Dissent

Liberal Capitalism
from Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)
From Théophile Gautier, Preface to Mlle. de Maupin (1835)
From Victor Hugo, A Soirée at M. Guizot’s (1846)
From François Guizot, Speech of Feb. 15, 1842.

Property and Insurrection
from Pierre Joseph Proudhon, What is Property? (1840)
from Victor Hugo, Diary of a Passer-by, During the Riot of the 15th of May (1839)
from Friedrich Engels & Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (1848)

Politics and Gender
from Caroline H. Dall,  Women’s Rights Under the Law, in Three Lectures (1861)
from Charles Fourier, The Theory of the Four Movements (1808)
from Arthur John Booth, Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism: A Chapter in the History of Socialism in France (1871)
from Théophile Gautier, Mlle. de Maupin (1835)

Romanticism and Realism
From Théophile Gautier, Mlle. De Maupin (1835)
From Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856)
from Charles Baudelaire, The Salon of 1845.
           The Salon of 1859
From Stendhal, The Red and the Black (1831)
From Honoré de Balzac, Lost Illusions (1837)
From Charles Baudelaire, Some French Caricaturists