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This third volume of an autobiographical trilogy was first published in 1886, preceded by The Child (1878) and The Graduate (1881). Jules Valles, here disguised as ""Jacques Vingtras,"" was condemned to death for his part in the 1871 Paris Commune (a sentence later commuted) and one hundred years later was quoted in the Paris students' revolt. In a bombardment of brief, often brilliant vinegary bursts he faces the world as well as real personalities and the thunder of events. He tried journalism but was dismissed by the newspaper pioneer Girardin with ""You. sir, are the prisoner of your personality""; then in his ventures into politics and military command, he was pushed and he glided into potentially powerful positions only to be brought up short by ""irony and anger."" Even in the tumult of barricade battles, resolution is drained by a caustic humor, by sorrow and despair at what be is seeing "". . . . despite all I said, the Pantheon was condemned to death. Up against the wall, Pantheon."" Valles, as one of the dispossessed, found a revolution waiting for him, and in his feverish search for honest accommodation in a society he knew too well. was violently congruent. With a useful list of the real persons pinioned by Valles, a chronology of political events, and a sensitive appreciation by translator Sandy Prety, this is a memoir of an accidental revolutionary with an unquestionable contemporary carryover.

Pub Date: July 2nd, 1971
Publisher: Prentice-Hall