The Siege and State Violence
The memory of the Siege of Paris has always been bound up with the memory of the Commune, the short-lived revolutionary moment that ended in May 1871, four months after the end of the Siege. This coda offers a reading of a short story, “Deux amis,” written and published by Guy de Maupassant in 1883, to suggest that, while those Parisians who lived through the Siege were convinced of its historical exemplarity, memory has relegated the Siege to an auxiliary role in history: prelude to the Commune, precursor to the Great War. Reading the Siege from its own perspective, as The Culture of War proposes to do, shows how literature became a vehicle for expressing the absurdity of war and the threat of state violence against its own citizens.
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