Privilege and the Politics of Taxation in Eighteenth Century France
Privilege and the Politics of Taxation in Eighteenth-Century France, first published in 2000, offers a lucid interpretation of the Ancien Régime and the origins of the French Revolution. It examines what was arguably the most ambitious project of the eighteenth-century French monarchy: the attempt to impose direct taxes on formerly tax-exempt privileged elites. Connecting the social history of the state to the study of political culture, Michael Kwass describes how the crown refashioned its institutions and ideology to impose new forms of taxation on the privileged. Drawing on impressive primary research from national and provincial archives, Kwass demonstrates that the levy of these taxes, which struck elites with some force, not only altered the relationship between monarchy and social hierarchy, but also transformed political language and attitudes in the decades before the French Revolution. Privilege and the Politics of Taxation in Eighteenth-Century France sheds light on French history during this crucial period.
The Story Without a Name
The title of this book is well chosen, for one could scarcely conceive of a name that could be appropriately applied to such a series of ghastly calamities, unless, perhaps, it might be called an epitome of all the horrors. In reading it one experiences a sensation as nameless as the story-a sensation in which are commingled the feelings of gloom, scorn, protest, shame, disgust, and compassion. After emerging from the nightmare in which it has entombed us, and the mind regains its normal tone, one naturally falls to wondering what could have been the frame of mind that conceived and the throes of soul that could give birth to such a morbid, dismal tale. Surely some raven must have perched above the chamber door, some agony must have entered into the life of the author, and made his hearthstone desolate; hence this tale, without a ray of sunshine, a glimmer of mirth, or a trace of humor; all shadow, sorrow, and sadness. From an artistic standpoint the book is faultless; its style is sui generis, but so absorbing, so intense, that the interest never flags. We read on to the end with ever increasing eagerness, though we shudder while we read, fascinated as a bird is by a serpent. The translator, in his introduction, quotes from a reviewer of d'Aurevilly's works the following words: "Never has language been raised to a prouder paroxysm. There is something in it that is brutal and exquisite, violent and delicate, bitter and refined. It is like the beverages that sorcerers made, in which were flowers and serpents, tiger's blood and honey." It is this unique style that Mr. Saltus has in no way weakened, but rather enhanced, in his translation, that makes this nameless story enchanting while it shocks. It was written ten years ago, and, Mr. Saltus tells, startled even Paris at the time of its publication. The scene of the narrative is in a sequestered French hamlet, situated at the base of a mountain so high that the perpendicular shadows envelope it like a pall, so that ofttimes at high noon not a glimpse of day penetrates the desolate place. A most fitting anchorage for so dreary a recital. "A place where Byron should have written his Darkness, where Rembrandt might have created that effect of his, the absence of light, or rather, it is there he would have found it." The characters are few, the pivotal ones being mother, daughter, and priest. The names of "hero" and "heroine" would have no meaning in this direful record of religious fanaticism, hypocrisy, cruelty, and crime. The mother, who, through her fealty to the memory of her dead husband, buries herself and her baby girl in this retreat, isolated from all social and wholesome influences and modes of life. In this atmosphere the daughter grows to womanhood, like a lily of the valley, with nil its purity and frailty. The mother transfers to the Church all the passionate ardor she had felt for her husband, counting a mother's love unhallowed as compared to the love of the holy ordinances. Her love for her child is manifested by directing her attention to the worship of God, but withholding from her that tenderness and sympathy which inspires confidence and secures safety to the child. Had her piety been less fervent and rigid, her devotions less frequent and severe, her mother heart would not have been smothered, in the incense of altars and the mock cry of creeds, while her daughter was starving for human sympathy and love. The dehumanizing effect of a sincere and abject faith in the crumbling creeds of Christendom is fearfully delineated in the picture of the mother standing over the bed of her daughter with a candle in one hand and a crucifix in the other, a device to awe the crushed and stricken child into a confession of a sin of which she was not guilty, and as a resource against the malediction she was seeking. It was this infatuation and fanaticism that widened the breach between mother and child.... -Belford's Magazine, Volume 6
In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms tragedy into a document of renewal and spiritual grace, resulting in a work that has become a classic.
The Humiliation of Sinners
"The Humiliation of Sinners is the work of a formidable scholar whose intensive research . . . produced a bold reinterpretation of the history of medieval penance."--Catholic Historical Review"Mansfield's book challenges long-held assumptions about the disappearance of public penance after the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. . . . The Humiliation of Sinners shows that Mansfield was a young woman of extraordinary promise in the field of medieval studies."--Choice"Mansfield argues that public penance continued to flourish throughout the thirteenth century. . . . She examines a rich variety of sources drawn primarily from northern France. The surviving narratives report a surprising number of cases of public penance involving notorious figures."--Law and History Review"This book is a major achievement. Its masterly synthesis is extensively documented, based on very close reading of a wide range of manuscript and printed material. Coherent in itself, it contains much of value beyond its own immediate concerns."--French HistoryThis compelling book, first published in 1995, changed historians' understanding of the history of public penance, a topic crucial to debates about the complex evolution of individualism in the West. Mary C. Mansfield demonstrates that various forms of public humiliation, imposed on nobles and peasants alike for shocking crimes as well as for minor brawls, survived into the thirteenth century and beyond.
Under the Feet of Jesus
With the same audacity with which John Steinbeck wrote about migrant worker conditions in The Grapes of Wrath and T.C. Boyle in The Tortilla Curtain, Viramontes (The Moths and Other Stories) presents a moving and powerful vision of the lives of the men, women, and children who endure a second-class existence and labor under dangerous conditions in California's fields. This first novel tells the story a young girl, Estrella, and her Latino family as they struggle with arduous farm labor during the summer months, and still manage to latch onto the hope of a liberating future. Viramontes graces the page with poetic touch, artfully describing poverty conditions and bringing to the reader a panoramic view of social consciousness and unforgettable characters.