Saturday, June 26, 2010

Libelles et Liberté

Robert Cushman informs us "that 18th-century French publishing had a well-known category, libelles, which covered many books that delighted newly literate readers by undermining the authority of the monarchy and the Church" — French dissing, the scandalous literature that liberated a country. The author exposes the myth that "that modern freedom was won by high-minded altruists devoted to human progress" suggesting "that much of the vast terrain on which literature and politics stand was in fact cleared by some dubious characters publishing books that no one, even the authors, considered respectable."

"Libelles helped create the demand for liberty [sic]... [and] were a major factor in the monarchy’s collapse," the author writes. "In the 18th century, libel was a French industry."

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.