An op-ed piece on Robert Darnton’s research on French libel recently
appeared in the National Post. Columnist
Robert Fulford writes:
When we chronicle the struggle for literary freedom we too
rarely give proper credit to the scandalous books, the salacious books, the
truly outrageous books…. A closer look reveals
that much of the vast terrain on which literature and politics stand was in
fact cleared by some dubious characters publishing books that no one, even the
authors, considered respectable.
Robert Darnton has spent many years nudging us toward an
understanding of this reality.
Highlighting Darnton’s distinguished career, Fulford goes on
to explain the significance of Darnton’s dedication to underground literature
as a shaper of French history:
His work has influenced cultural historians in France and
elsewhere. One skeptical academic called his approach “the ‘pornographic’
interpretation of the French Revolution” but his habit of poking into the
darker corners of French publishing has enriched the world’s view of the era.
The complete column is available at www.nationalpost.com.