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This important and original book addresses the nature of public opinion, the relation between rulers and ruled, and the role of popular rumours in eighteenth century France. Arlette Farge draws on chronicles, newspapers, memoirs, police records and newsheets to show that ordinary Parisians had definite opinions on what was happening in their city.
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In this perceptive and engaging book, Arlette Farge argues that there was a popular public sphere in eighteenth-century France. The eighteenth century was awash with rumour and talk; the words and opinions of ordinary people filled the streets of Paris.
Drawing on chronicles, newspapers, memoirs, police reports and newsheets from the time, Farge shows that ordinary Parisians had definite opinions on what was happening in their city - visible, real, everyday events such as executions, price rises, and revolts. Yet the political significance of these opinions was denied by a government which preferred to regard them as unsophisticated, impulsive, and inept.
Farge argues that, while public opinion continued to be officially excluded from the political field and even denied an existence by those in high places, it became one of the main sources of fear to the monarchy, which tried to keep it under continual surveillance through a system of spies, inspectors and observers. It was amid this curious tension, she argues, that popular rumours arose, and even gained a life of their own.
This important and original book addresses a range of issues - including the nature of public opinion, the relation between rulers and ruled, and the role of popular rumours - which will be of great interest to students and researchers in the social and cultural history of early modern Europe.About the Author:
Arlette Farge is Director of Research in Modern History at the CNRS, Paris. Her previous books include Rules of Rebellion (with Jacques Revel, Polity, 1991) and Fragile Lives (Polity, 1993).
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