While scholarly interest is often drawn to the more tumultuous Paris Commune of 1871, insistence on this moment of revolution and civil war obscures the specific stakes of the Siege of Paris, which was not as much a revolution as a moment of suspension in French history. Cut off from the rest of the world, Parisians were left to their own devices during the Siege. What resulted was a literary industry with few established authors present, limited resources, and enormous demand. Despite the circumstances, Parisians turned to literature to alleviate their isolation and bear witness to the unspeakable tragedy that surrounded them. The relative anonymity of Parisian literary production during the Siege has erroneously led to the conclusion that culture came to a standstill during this period. However, a closer look at literary institutions, which weathered the storm of national defeat remarkably well, shows that literature does not disappear in times of war: it simply changes form. The introduction defines the four major sites of cultural production and the networks that existed within and among them: theaters, newspapers, personal writing, and book publishing.
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