The Terror of 1793-94, the Paris Commune of 1871, the Dreyfus Affair-explosions of violence punctuated French history from the start of the Revolution until the Liberation at the close of World War II. The distinguished scholar Richard D. E. Burton here offers a stunningly original account of these outbursts, concluding that recourse to political violence was not occasional and abnormal, but rather the usual pattern, in French history. Instead of adhering to conventional chronological lines, Blood in the City is structured topologically around a number of major Parisian "sites of memory," including Place de la Concorde, Sacre Coeur, and the Eiffel Tower. For thirty years Burton has visited and revisited Paris, criss-crossing the streets on foot, and lived with great nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary depictions of the city. Drawing on historical, literary, visual, anthropological, and psychological sources, he develops a wide-ranging account of violence in modern French politics. In so doing, he provides powerful insights into political violence, scapegoating, the idea of sacrifice, and the widespread French obsession with conspiracy.
Burton demonstrates that time and again the same basic scenario has been acted out on the streets of Paris: one or more people would be singled out from the community and imprisoned, exiled, or, more often, subjected to violence by the crowd or the state. In particular, he explores how Catholicism-in its extreme, ultrareactionary form-shaped the worldviews of Parisians and how the killing of a sacrificial victim came to be seen as a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ.
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(235mm x 156mm x 30mm)
Cornell University Press
Publisher: Cornell University Press
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