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The Culture of WarLiterature of the Siege of Paris 1870-1871$
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Colin Foss

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621921

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621921.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

To Make the Past Public

To Make the Past Public

(p.189) Chapter 8 To Make the Past Public
The Culture of War

Colin Foss

Liverpool University Press

This chapter deals with the kind of revolution France was undergoing during the Siege, and particularly how the book publishing industry—which created more lasting, less ephemeral literature than other sites of production—conceptualized this revolutionary moment. Publishers tended to look towards the past, rather than the future, to find their way out of the political instability of the Siege. Incarnated in the revival of the eighteenth-century libelle, the fixation on the perceived crimes of previous governments created an artificial revolution in print, one in which future change seemed unnecessary. This was a decidedly anti-revolutionary politics that attempted to build complacency rather than incite action. To make a break with the past, to turn public opinion against the politics of the Second Empire that had just fallen, Parisian publishers turned to the etymological definition of publication: to make matters public. The Siege saw the publication of hundreds of books that claimed to expose secrets and shed light on lies. The accusatory publications of the Siege exposed the crimes, both real and imagined, of the Second Empire.

Keywords:   Publishing, Revolution, Libelle, Censorship, Siege, War

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