Dawn of the Belle Epoque : The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends
Overview - A humiliating military defeat by Bismarck's Germany, a brutal siege, and a bloody uprising--Paris in 1871 was a shambles, and the question loomed, "Could this extraordinary city even survive?" Mary McAuliffe takes the reader back to these perilous years following the abrupt collapse of the Second Empire and France's uncertain venture into the Third Republic. Read more...
More About Dawn of the Belle Epoque by Mary McAuliffe
A humiliating military defeat by Bismarck's Germany, a brutal siege, and a bloody uprising--Paris in 1871 was a shambles, and the question loomed, "Could this extraordinary city even survive?" Mary McAuliffe takes the reader back to these perilous years following the abrupt collapse of the Second Empire and France's uncertain venture into the Third Republic. By 1900, Paris had recovered and the Belle Epoque was in full flower, but the decades between were difficult, marked by struggles between republicans and monarchists, the Republic and the Church, and an ongoing economic malaise, darkened by a rising tide of virulent anti-Semitism. Yet these same years also witnessed an extraordinary blossoming in art, literature, poetry, and music, with the Parisian cultural scene dramatically upended by revolutionaries such as Monet, Zola, Rodin, and Debussy, even while Gustave Eiffel was challenging architectural tradition with his iconic tower. Through the eyes of these pioneers and others, including Sarah Bernhardt, Georges Clemenceau, Marie Curie, and Cesar Ritz, we witness their struggles with the forces of tradition during the final years of a century hurtling towards its close. Through rich illustrations and evocative narrative, McAuliffe brings this vibrant and seminal era to life.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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Rising from the ashes of the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune, the tumultuous Third Republic’s early years from 1870 to 1900, known as the belle epoque, was an era in which groundbreaking artists flourished: Manet, Eiffel, Rodin, Debussy, and other one-name legends. McAuliffe (Paris Discovered: Explorations in the City of Light) chronicles the story of Paris’s rebirth, capturing the artistic freedom of impressionism in painting and music, and new ideas in sculpture and on the stage even as Republican secularists, lingering Communards, and the royalist Catholic hierarchy fought for political and popular control, a struggle wonderfully illustrated through the construction in this era of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. The fascinating glimpses into the lives of each significant figure are necessarily truncated, including Sarah Bernhardt’s, whose self-marketing could well have served as a blueprint for Lady Gaga. The author doesn’t overlook the Dreyfus affair and economic hard times, but the relationships and creative output of the era’s innovators create a marvelous vision of Paris at its heady, uncertain best. Illus. (May)