Political Bias, Censorship and the Dissolution of the "Official" Press in Eighteenth Century France

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Officially approved French periodicals of the 18th century are all too easily dismissed as timid unchanging monoliths which listed nothing but ceremonial and protocol or catered for the restricted interests of a small literary elite. To counteract this, the evolution of general news coverage is described in detail here, following developments in taste and at times even risking official disapproval. Illustrates the practical difficulties of publishing news under the Old Regime and the long-term habits to which this gave rise. Uses contemporary sources to clear up misconceptions and most importantly to serve as a guide to what was expected of the press at the time and after. In order to reveal what was often missing in papers published in France, coverage of things French in the foreign press at three token periods during the century is included. The epilogue shows how officialdom in France would continue up to the 20th century to react instinctively in ways already seen under the Ancien Regime. As an Appendix a statistical analysis of part of the contents of the Gazette shows the distribution and speed of news gathering and the growth of the love of miscellaneous non-official news items. A thematic as well as a general index is also included.


"Christopher Todd's work improves our understanding of change in this period. . . . In a lengthy and interesting epilogue he takes the story up to the present day in order to demonstrate the `persistence of almost instinctive habits adopted by officialdom and the press from early in its existence under the Ancien Régime.'" - Journal of European Studies

"“Although Todd does not deal with ephemerally popular downmarket literature, he does none the less offer a much-modified view of contemporary French literary history that is based on market sales rather than on establishment critical taste. Hence, although the heavyweights of the French literary tradition do appear (Zola, Gide, Malraux, Sartre, Beauvoir, for example), their cultural significance is contested by other more impressive performers in the literary market such as Henri Bordeaux, Henri Troyat, Bernard Clavel, Georges Simenon, Agatha Christie, Gerard Villiers, and Frederic Dard. There is much fascinating detail (particularly in the extensive notes and appendices) that cannot be adequately summarized in a short review . . .” – Michael Scriven, University of Bath for The Modern Language Review

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