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The Turgot-Bretez Map of Paris

The Turgot map was published in 1739 as an atlas of sectional bird’s-eye view maps (at a scale of approximately 1/400) in isometric perspective. The atlas covers an area approximately corresponding to the first eleven of the modern-day arrondissements. If the sectional maps are assembled, the composite is 250.5 cm high x 322.5 cm wide…. Read more »

Count Brühl

Count Henryk Brühl (1700–1763) was a statesman at the court of Saxony and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth who rose meteorically from a Dowager Countess’ page to Prime Minister of the King. With determination and ruthless cunning he managed to despatch his rivals and control the King and through him, Saxony and Poland. He was the presiding… Read more »

What if the sun…

What might the end of the world look like, to people who inhabit high mountains, whose lives are governed by the dependable revolution of the seasons? Perhaps the sun might slip beneath a western ridge one evening, and not return in the morning. In the first half of the 20th century, that terrifying prospect represented… Read more »

The Journal of Countess Francoise Krasinska

Were they mere words? Ah, good heavens, if it was only mere courtesy! One of those amiable deceptions so much practised, I’m told, in the great world. Language applied equally to all women whatsoever, belonging to the court circle, and which I shared in common with every pretty maiden the prince has met for years back! I am prey to cruel perplexities and dare not confide my doubts to any one. To whom could I bring myself to say, “Does he prefer me? Has he fallen in love with me?” Those are the thoughts perpetually occurring to me, the questions my heart perpetually asks and longs to utter. But to no one can I confide them. My parents are far away and the manners of my aunt are anything but inviting to confidence. I should fear her as a cold-hearted severe judge. The Woivode is good and kind, but how could I—any girl—bring herself to tell those thoughts to a man? I am completely abandoned to myself without anyone to advise or help me!

Riversong of the Rhône

“One sings here of the soul of a river, and this soul never dies.” C.F.Ramuz Nearly seventy years after the death of Charles Ferdinand Ramuz (1878-1947), it is safe to say that the reputation of Switzerland’s legendary poet of the people is secure, at least in French. Since 2005, his 22 novels have appeared in… Read more »

Countess Cosel

Born Anna Constantia von Brockdorff in 1680, this German noblewoman rose from a minor lady-in-waiting to become the mistress of the King of Poland and finally, the most famous prisoner in Saxony. In her youth, she had an affair and the scandal was covered up. Then she made a respectable marriage but that proved inconvenient… Read more »

Beauty on Earth

Through the door of a Swiss inn the reader steps into a painting. Two men talk to each other and before long the writer -someone like them, one of them- begins to address us. Thus commences the fugue that is Beauty on Earth, in which the coming of a beautiful orphan to her uncle’s inn… Read more »

Hell

A man in his empty room … witnessing through a hole in the wall all that mankind has to offer of its soul. Hell (L’enfer) is a study of voyeurism written in 1908 by Henri Barbusse. When it was translated into English in 1918 it was considered scandalous. A young man in a Paris boarding… Read more »

Oriental Encounters

In 1896 Marmaduke Pickthall arrived in Palestine and spent the next couple of years in native dress wandering the hinterlands. English expatriates were alarmed the young man had gone native, but Marmaduke was having the time of his life.He said ‘When I read The Arabian Nights I see the daily life of Damascus, Jerusalem, Aleppo,… Read more »

The Comédienne

The Comédienne draws on Nobel Prize winner, Wladyslav Reymont’s, own experiences as an actor in a struggling provincial theatre at the fin de siecle, at time of massive social upheaval in Europe. Reymont depicts, in a slow-burning tragedy, a young provincial Janina, the comédienne of the title, who joins a Warsaw theatre company and struggles… Read more »