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By J. A. B. Braumont, Esq. Printing for JAMEs Ridgway. Stothard and Nesfield, the Fourth Edition of POETICAL SKETCHES, with other Poems. . recueils et journaux scientifiques et littéraires, qui existent en France et dans les autres pays .
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You never stop complaining! Alix ne bouge avant midi. Alix never moves before noon. Elle ne manque de positiver.

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Note that b and c also apply to other verbs — see 1 and 2, below. Je ne sais pas conduire. I have read and reread your Preliminary Discourse. It has strength, it has charm, it has precision; richer in thoughts than in words, likewise rich in sentiment—and my praises might go on. Indeed, the Preliminary Discourse could be regarded as the manifesto of the French Enlightenment, at least in the retrospective view of the historian. To be sure, it was not designed to be a pronouncement heralding or justifying revolutionary political action as were the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and the Communist Manifesto, but it expressed the spirit of an intellectual and emotional revolution going on in the eighteenth century that in one way or another lay in the background of each of these.

It breathed a confidence that man, through his own intelligent efforts, could transform the conditions of human life and that the beginning of that revolution could already be seen in the sciences and arts. Compared with anything that had preceded it, the Discourse was unique. We have seen its likes since, but one looks in vain throughout previous history for a declaration of principles that represented, as this one did, the views of a party of men of letters who were convinced that through their combined efforts they could substantially contribute to the progress of humanity.

Francis Bacon — dreamed of the co-operation of scholars for the advancement of learning, but he had no grounds for hoping that his schemes might soon revolutionize society. His New Atlantis was a distant utopia. Descartes — wrote as a courageous, lone individual, seeking truth through the powers of his isolated intelligence, although he of course understood that the advance of knowledge depended on the mutual efforts of scholars. He spoke for himself in the Discourse on Method, and not for a group of men of letters.

The scholarly societies of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, while hoping to contribute to material progress, were concerned primarily with the erudite and professional activities of closeted savants and did not dream of transforming the conditions of the world in a fundamental way. However, by the end of the seventeenth century, the members of the European international republic of letters were developing an awareness that cumulatively they were a force in the world, and this birth of a self-conscious sense of power among the literati proved to be one of the revolutionary events of modern times.

For the first time large numbers of people were coming to the bracing conclusion that the progress of humanity could be carried forward indefinitely in this world, and men of letters felt they were the prime movers of that progress.

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Rather than isolating themselves in their closets, certain scholars and writers conceived of themselves as being very much involved in the affairs of the world and believed that their intellectual activity, if it contributed to the progress of knowledge, inevitably served a social function. A capital feature of the great Encyclopedia of Diderot, for which the Preliminary Discourse was the introduction, was that it became the principal expression of the solidarity and power of that group of energetic and articulate men of letters in France.

As the focal point of the French Enlightenment, the encyclopedic project marked a critical step in the process by which intellectual forces and an ever more influential portion of the French public combined in demanding reform. We now view the Encyclopedia more as a major historical event than as an original contribution to any of the branches of knowledge. Its publication precipitated a prolonged controversy that clarified the positions of various amorphous factions in the intellectual and emotional world of the eighteenth century and squarely confronted them with one another.

Those who ranged themselves on the side of the encyclopedists in effect formed a party, or the rudiments of one, which served as the spiritual predecessor for groups of reformers who were to preside in large measure over the transformation of the conditions of life in France and throughout the western world during the next generation.

The Preliminary Discourse was the work of a young scholar, in association with other men of letters who were not quite angry but were filled with an iconoclastic gusto and a confident dedication to what they felt were great and progressive ideas. Their engaging characters, their colorful and earthy eccentricities growing from an eighteenth-century atmosphere especially conducive to individuality and originality, give a special appeal to the study of that era. The twentieth-century reader is surprised by the degree of compactness and intimacy of the lively universe that existed in Europe just before the vast mushrooming of population during the past two centuries.

A very large percentage of the men of letters knew one another well enough to be great friends or to hate one another. The most able of them in France easily gravitated together in Paris. Rousseau recalled episodes of their early association during the years before in his Confessions.

Diderot, he wrote, became his intimate friend, with whom he had practically daily contact. They belonged to the second generation of the philosophes. The time came when they were lionized and wooed by the crowned heads of Europe and the influential in society as the foremost intellectual attractions of France; but these were perhaps their happier days of relative obscurity. By the time he joined the encyclopedic group he had already begun to make the contributions in those fields that were to assure him a permanent and important place in the history of science.

His origins were bizarre. He was the natural son of a soldier aristocrat, the chevalier Destouches, and Madame de Tencin, one of the most notorious and fascinating aristocratic women of the century. A renegade nun, she acquired a fortune as mistress to the powerful minister, Cardinal Dubois, and after a successful career of political scheming, she rounded out her life by establishing a salon which attracted the most brilliant writers and philosophers of France.

In any case, he was found shortly after his birth on the steps of the Parisian church of Saint-Jean-Lerond. He was raised by a humble nurse, Madame Rousseau, whom he treated as his mother and with whom he lived until long after he achieved international fame. His father, the chevalier Destouches, was able to keep track of the boy and provided him with sufficient means for his schooling. For a number of years the young scholar abandoned himself entirely to his passion for the physico-mathematical sciences and, largely without formal training, he succeeded in mastering these fields.

During most of his life he was in intimate contact with the eminent scientists of his day through his correspondence, and as a member of the most distinguished scientific societies of Europe. At the same time he charmed his way into the center of the powerful salon of Madame du Deffand, who became his intimate friend and protectress.

The Substance of the Work

The publication of the Preliminary Discourse brought him out of his obscurity as a poverty-stricken mathematician and launched him, in the public mind, as a philosophe. He began to be considered a spokesman for the philosophic party, a role which he adopted with great gusto. Endowed with an inquiring and facile intelligence, he easily assimilated the most exciting ideas of the time. His collected works included essays on a remarkable range of subjects. Along with Diderot and Rousseau, he was fascinated by the musical theories of Rameau, as will be seen in the Discourse.

Fairly early in his career he was elected to the most important academies of Europe. By the time he joined Diderot as an encyclopedist he was deeply involved in the active and inventive world of the French Academy of Sciences, and that connection was a valuable asset for the encyclopedic project. Eventually he became the perpetual secretary of that academy, where he followed the tradition of composing eulogies that had been established by Fontenelle when he was secretary of the Academy of Sciences.

Straitened circumstances and inclination made him abstemious in his habits, and he never married. However, after he became the intimate friend of an aristocratic lady likewise of illegitimate birth, the famous Julie de Lespinasse, with whom he was ever more closely bound until her death left him desolate in Their strictly spiritual and intellectual relationship, which was something exceptional among the philosophes, filled an important chapter of the later part of his life, and together the two friends made a valuable contribution to the vitality of the reforming salons in the period after Diderot possessed one of the most fascinating intellects of his time, and was, incidentally, one of its great conversationalists.

Brilliant, demonstrative, sentimental, endlessly energetic and productive, he was capable of deluging his listener with a flood of surprising and original reflections on almost anything with which his mind grappled. Those around him found themselves hypnotized by his enthusiasm. The son of a cutler from Langres, he had come to Paris as a student and turned to living by his wits as a copyist, translator, and writer.

From the outset, it would seem, his tastes were encyclopedic. During his harried life he dashed off works in an astounding variety of subjects and genres: To the chagrin of his friends and the publishers, he was imprisoned in for some of his unorthodox writings at a time when he very much needed to be free so that he could carry out his multitude of duties as chief editor of the Encyclopedia.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau — was one of the most extraordinary members of this group. He was a runaway vagabond from Geneva who in was on the point of becoming a great celebrity in the intellectual world. He eked out a bare existence as a tutor. Rousseau ultimately had a larger personal effect than any of his acquaintances upon the intellectual, emotional, and revolutionary history of Europe, and his career offers one of the best examples of the new impact of the intellectual classes upon the course of history.

His democratic political theory became gospel in the political and social revolutions that lay ahead, and his approach to morality, sentiment, and emotion in his novels and other writings lies at the foundation of nineteenth-century Romanticism. However, in he had only begun to win his first public acclaim in the areas of ethical speculation for which he became famous. In that year he published his Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts, which was a subject of comment in the Preliminary Discourse. A substantial share of those who had the title never took holy orders, which would have made them priests.

It was in this branch of philosophy that he achieved his greatest eminence. He was perhaps the best of the professional philosophers of eighteenth-century France. However, possibly because he did not wish to be compromised by its unorthodoxy, he did not contribute actively to the Encyclopedia. Scenes of wretchedness, filth, disease and death were daily and public experiences for them all, along with great extremes of luxury and privilege.

The general prosperity of almost all classes in France had been rising over the last hundred years. There was a thriving community of professional and business people, who, along with the more intelligent aristocrats and clergy, were responsive to the exchange of ideas and information in literature and to the enjoyments of art.

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That prosperity made it possible for a man like Diderot to scrape together enough to exist on, albeit miserably, as a professional literary man, and it made it possible in the long run for his ideas and projects and those of men like him to have some real effect in the world which was beginning to be able to afford them. It must suffice to note that certain forces were at work in all western Europe that progressively brought about fundamental transformations in almost all the important features of that society in the next several generations.

France was particularly stirred by the developing spirit of criticism. Much of the invigorating thought of the liberal centers of the north had found its way into France, partly through the journalistic activities and translations of the exiled Huguenot intelligentsia, partly through the work of Dutch scientists and critics, and partly through direct communication among various men throughout the international republic of letters.

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In addition, he rapidly assimilated a host of stimulating philosophical and social ideas from England, which animated the conversations and writings of his colleagues toward the middle of the century and formed the basis of the Preliminary Discourse. The many debts of the encyclopedists to their predecessors, and especially to Descartes, are eloquently recognized in the Preliminary Discourse, which testified also to the inspiration they drew from the great patriarchs of the Enlightenment: Fontenelle, Montesquieu, and Voltaire.

Fontenelle — was still alive in Similarly, most of them were partisans and disciples of Montesquieu — , who had emerged at this time as the great French critic and commentator on the social, political, legal, and constitutional nature of society, and who threw his ponderous influence upon the side of reform. In matters having to do with political theory Montesquieu became the supreme authority for the Encyclopedia. The extraordinary eminence of Voltaire was the prime demonstration to the encyclopedists of the power that lay in the hands of men of letters.

Nostalgic for what might have been if the band had got a recording contract, Alain goes on a quest to find the rest of the band and a copy of the demo tape. The band members have all lead an interesting variety of lives, none of them in music. Sebastian Vaugan, the bass player became a right wing politician and started his own extremist, rabble rousing party.

Stanislas Lepelle the drummer has made a name for himself in the world of contemporary art with his giant outdoor installations across the globe. Frederic Lejeune the keyboard player has made a new life for himself in Thailand where he runs a resort and Berengere, the vocalist went home to run her parents hotel. Lyricist, Pierre Mazart opened an antique shop, and his more famous brother, Jean-Bernard Mazart, aka JBM their producer has become a super wealthy economist and business man.

One by one Alain tracks them down.


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Each of the main characters gets to tell their own story and their pasts and presents start to intersect and collide, taking the book in unexpected directions. A little bit quirky, a little bit humorous this is a gentle novel of love lost and found, a nostalgic look at the past and a commentary on the politics of modern France. Oct 01, Liz rated it liked it Shelves: This was not what I was expecting.

The premise is that a 50something doctor receives a letter lost in the post for the past 33 years. It was from a recording agency attempting to set up a meeting concerning his then band. So, he decides to reconnect with his old band mates and the songwriter. Initially, the author seems to be using that premise to do a series of vignettes. The book does chapters on each bandmate and their current spouses, PA and brothers before they ever connect.

It's like a ser This was not what I was expecting. It's like a series of portrayals more than a novel. Granted, I liked the portrayals. The writer does a decent job of capturing the essence of the person. And it is interesting to see how these folks turned out. Vaugan is an especially interesting character, a far right political leader. Laurain does a great job of exploring why leaders like this are so appealing to a certain segment of the population. Very timely, not just in Europe, but here in the US. In fact, a large portion of this book involves the disenchantment of the French populace with their politicians and the search for someone new and different.

Littérature Française (Le Romantisme)

Towards the end of the book, there is this: And then it just goes off the rails. What had been fairly low key turns hysterical. There is a real comic turn here that I was totally unprepared for. So, for those who are frustrated by the beginning of the book, stay the course. My thanks to netgalley and Gallic Books for an advance copy of this book. Sep 26, Jennifer rated it it was ok. Alain and his friends were once members of an experimental New Wave band called "The Holograms" and the letter is from a major record label expressing interest in recording the band.

Of course, since the letter never reached them, Merde. Of course, since the letter never reached them, The Holograms have long since split up, the members have lost touch, and most have gotten "real" jobs. Laurain uses this same serendipitous plot structure, and mixes in whimsy, humor, a sense of place, and a certain je ne sais quois to great effect in his previous books.

Sadly, all the charm is missing here. Several side characters are introduced, and their story lines crowd out the overlying arc of Alain trying to find his former band mates. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallic Books for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. View all 4 comments. Sep 15, Bianca rated it really liked it Shelves: Antoine Laurain is very good at putting together such stories.

In the "French Rhapsody', Alain Massoulier, a general practitioner doctor receives a letter 33 years later. The letter could have changed his and his friends' destinies when they were in their early 20s and were trying to make it in the music world as the new wave, cold wave band the Holograms. So Alain is trying to get in touch with his former bandmates, to see if any of them still have the recording that could have propelled them to fame.

While doing this, we come to meet many other characters. It's interesting to note how all of them had chosen different paths: Some of the characters were more interesting than others. I must confess I found it hard reading the extreme right-wing's character's incessant speech and hate monologues, so I kind of skimmed over that part. Another character that plays a big part in this novel is JBM, a very accomplished businessman. It's obvious that Antoine Laurain, like most people, is disillusioned with the state of the French politics and the career politicians who don't have much of a backbone.

So he created JBM, who's too good to be true, short of a fantasy of what a good politician should be. As with all previous Antoine Laurain novels, nostalgia is present throughout this book. While this novel wasn't as charming and well put together as 'The Red Notebook' and 'The President's Hat', it was still a very enjoyable read.

Looking forward to reading 'The Portrait', which comes out in July I've received this novel via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Many thanks to Gallic Books for the opportunity to read this novel and also for sending me the paperback novel I entered a newsletter competition. View all 3 comments. Feb 28, Antonomasia added it Shelves: But this was a pleasant surprise: Though, as Laurain is trying out that favoured contemporary lit mode, the polyphonic cast of multiple narrators alongside third-person interludes it has its moments of both. I've said a few times in recent months, on GR and off, that France sounds dystopian now.

I perceived Laurain as an escapist popular writer who would make little or no mention of the stuff that contributes to that, assumed that his book would seem like a little dreamworld that probably pre-dated the late 00s recession if it seemed to be anywhen at all People who aren't usually political are starting to get concerned and stand up for their views. I'd love to hear about the reception of this book in France.

In Britain or the US, it would be easy to characterise or denigrate as the creative classes - even if they don't produce the most highbrow works - being a class apart from the right-wing voters who have different values At any rate, having this material presented in such a light novel - along with a pretty large amount of French pop-culture and political references from the last few decades - gives a sense, illusory or real, I don't know, of a view from the inside, that perhaps this is how average centre-left French people see things now.

Yes, there are the storylines one would expect from a mainstream novel about people who were in a band that didn't quite make it 33 years earlier - ageing, lost loves, people growing up and growing apart, and the romance of fame that could have been. But Laurain also seems to be getting his satirical chops on to have a dig at a fellow author with a considerably darker view of France's possible future, via the straggly-haired balding keyboard player who now lives in Thailand with his younger fiancee and unappealing personal habits. Meanwhile, the bassist is now the leader of a French far right activist group that has grown substantially in recent years, and their amateur manager is now a tech tycoon with an uncanny knack for timing investments, a likeable but reserved man of high public popularity and ascetic habits, who later in the novel reveals he is an admirer of the highly principled former Paraguayan President Mujica.

Rhapsodie Francaise was first published in France in January ; it's evidently had at least a little bit of editing, because this ARC from August official English language publication date was Oct mentions the death of Prince - as well as that of Bowie, which it's not totally impossible was in the original, if it was added right on the wire before an end-of-Jan printing. Hard to tell just how much else has been changed or added, but even as a book pre-dating the election of Trump it's fairly prescient - even more so if it was in something very close to its current form 12 months ago, before the Brexit vote, and before Trump was seen as a serious candidate and it was so clear that the public was hungry for candidates from outside the political establishment and the recent status quo.

So this may or may not be a relatively different novel from the French original; if my French were better, I might order an early French edition and find out. It could be easy to deride as liberal wish fulfilment and some of it, on the right and the left, includes improbable policies that simply don't fit contemporary global strategic or environmental conditions view spoiler [such as the far-right leader who wants to re-colonise old colonies, or the amount of economic growth JBM achieves hide spoiler ].

The West Wing , a far more substantial body of work, was criticised by cynics as just that sort of pie-in-the-sky. But now, at a time when both the news and a great deal of new writing, both fiction and non-, is dystopian, it's a lovely and refreshing change, to spend a short time in a fictional world where things might work out differently.

It's an alternative way of writing escapist fiction, one which doesn't neglect present realities, and I have to say it rather works. Unfortunately the soapier elements of the novel have some of the usual silliness that can afflict this sort of story; drama prolonged by people not telling each other stuff for no good reason, general fancifulness, a silly twist; all of which means I wouldn't quite round it up to four stars it was also better than the 3-star effort I expected.

There aren't a huge number of people on my friendslist who'd read a book like this, but if you are looking for a silly, escapist light read that doesn't contain too much romance, and which is frank about the state of contemporary politics, and especially if you've ever cared a lot about pop music, this may be worth a look. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Gallic Books, for this free advance review copy.

Sep 29, Fran rated it really liked it. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, so the proverbial phrase goes.

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The four instrumentalists, female singer and producer, while united by music, have taken different life journeys. Their paths will ultimately cross again. In the 's, Alain Massoulier, electric guitarist is the contact person for record company correspondence. Fast forward thirty three years. Alain recei When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, so the proverbial phrase goes.

Alain receives a formerly undelivered letter written in from famous record label Polydor. Alain, now a middle-aged physician becomes overwhelmed thinking about what might have been. Searches for old photos of the band and the studio recorded cassette are fruitless.

Alain is determined to contact each band member attempting to locate a copy of the thirty three year old cassette. Alain reaches out to former bandmates. Each has embarked on a different path; a right wing extremist, antiques dealer, contemporary artist, internet entrepreneur, and resident of Thailand.

We get a thorough understanding of the life choices each has made. There is,however, a nagging question- What if the Holograms had been a successful band on the scale of the Rolling Stones? The world has changed and life as Alain and bandmates knew it has faded away replaced by a fast paced techno world. My favorite character is JBM. JBM is a reassuring, calm man who can measure the pulse of the economic pendulum. A most enjoyable read.

Aug 26, Cindy Burnett rated it it was amazing Shelves: Paris physician Alain Massoulier receives what would have been a life changing letter in the mail 33 years after it was sent to him. With a number of other individuals that we slowly get 4.


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After receiving little encouragement from the music industry, the group had broken up and gone their separate ways. The delayed letter offered the group a recording contract. This letter sets in motion a chain of events that alters the lives of several of the individuals originally associated with the Holograms. Laurain explores the idea that one event or happenstance can cause a ripple that impacts the lives of many individuals.

The plot was not predictable, and several events occurred that I most definitely did not see coming.