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The gossip and filthy songs that led to the French Revolution

  • Robert Darnton’s pre-Revolutionary Paris is a city teeming with talk. Pamphleteers, philosophers, politicians and scientists: they all inject ideas into the bloodstream of the city, ideas taken up in the chatter of ordinary Parisians. The city doesn’t have a daily journal until 1777, so conversation is how people understand what’s going on. Under the Tree of Cracow, a chestnut in the garden of the Palais-Royal, nouvellistes de bouche pass on the day’s news by word of mouth. Bawdy songs about roy
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