From the summer of 1870 through the spring of 1871, France suffered a humiliating defeat in its war against Prussia and witnessed bloody class warfare that culminated in the crushing of the Paris Commune. We invite you to a conversation about a year of upheaval between two experts on 19th century France.
In his new book, Peter Brooks examines why Flaubert thought his recently published novel, Sentimental Education, was prophetic of France during this “terrible year,” and how Flaubert's life and that of his compatriots were changed forever. He uses letters between Flaubert and his novelist friend and confidante George Sand to tell the story of Flaubert and his work, exploring his political commitments and his understanding of war, occupation, insurrection, and bloody political repression. Interweaving history, art history, and literary criticism—from Flaubert's magnificent novel of historical despair, to the building of the reactionary monument the Sacré-Coeur on Paris's highest summit, to the emergence of photography as historical witness—Brooks sheds new light on the pivotal moment when France redefined herself for the modern world.
Peter Brooks is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Yale University. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Reading for the Plot, Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature, and Enigmas of Identity. Brooks currently teaches Comparative Literature at Princeton University. Philip Nord is Professor of History at Princeton University and is the author, among other books, of The Republican Moment: Struggles for Democracy in 19th Century France, and of France’s New Deal: from the Thirties to the Postwar Era.