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Pick up There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri and let your hair down; turn the pages and you’ll enter into a joyous and playful imaginary world with ice-creams so tall you need a ladder to eat them and a roller-coaster ride through a fairground filled with outsized lollipops and candy cane.
Your guides for this adventure of delight are Amelia and her pal Pierre.
Who just happens to be a dinosaur.
With a magnificent moustache.
Yes, this is a bonkers tale, full of happiness, wish fulfilment and whimsical fun. Oh what mischievous good times can be had with a cheese chomping dinosaur, especially one who can hide so well from your parents!
Echeverri’s carefree, light-hearted tale combining fantasy food and a (secret) dino of one’s very own is a winner. On a practical note, primary schools with French lessons could include this to jazz up story time, for the text is very lightly seasoned with a few French phrases. But really this book is about fun and nonsense. Silliness, sweets and someone special to share it with – we could all enjoy a dose of that, couldn’t we?
And would you believe it, not long after sharing this book with my girls, what did I discover in our own bathtub?
It seems Pierre paid us a visit, complete with his beret, and stripy cardigan, manicured moustache and penchant for flouncy fun!
So now you’ve seen how we created costumes for Mortimer Keene, Squishy McFluff and Pierre the Dinosaur. But there are even more ideas for dressing up as a book character over on Book Aid International’s website.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know by now that I’m a long running supporter of Book Aid. A few years ago we did a sponsored Librarithon, and then we had a marvellous competition to win an original illustration by one of my favourite illustrators, Katie Cleminson, in return for guessing how many books I had in my home at that time.
I love what Book Aid do because they know that books change lives. Every year they send around half a million brand new books to Africa, reaching thousands of readers in towns, villages, prisons, refugee camps, schools, hospitals and universities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Maybe you could use this year’s World Book Day to also support what Book Aid does? Here are some great ideas to get you going!
But whatever you do, don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be in with a chance of winning my final giveaway. Yes, I have one copy of There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri to send to a reader…
The giveaway is open to residents in UK/Eire only. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post.
For extra entries you can:
You must leave a separate comment for each entry for them to count.
Disclosure: My thanks go to the publishers, Bloomsbury, for donating the book for this giveaway, and for sending me a review copy. I was approached by Book Aid to spread the word about the charity and I am very happy to do so. I received no payment for this post.
Established in 2008, Les Graphiquants is a design studio based in Paris, France. With a portfolio that is ripe in typographic exploration, they create work that is highly expressive and uncompromising in it’s approach.
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Mister Retro: Machine Wash Deluxe for being this week's sponsor.
Charming work from Noemie Cedille, a designer and illustrator based in Paris.
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Beautiful illustration work from Aurelien Debat, a graduate of the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg.
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Maggie Steele, the storybook heroine who vaults over the moon, has been attracting thousands of visitors from around the world. So many visitors, in fact, that she’s using a time zone map to keep track of them all.* People are … Continue readingAdd a Comment
It’s the return of a readers’ favorite: Animated Fragments. These clips celebrate the briefest of the brief: short animated experiments, work-in-progress clips, advertising pieces, animated GIFs, trailers and and small pieces that otherwise wouldn’t have a home on Cartoon Brew. For more, visit the Animated Fragments archive.
“La zona blanca” by Reza Riahi (Iran/France)
“Louis” by Mathilde Parquet (France)
“Amoo Lucky” teaser for Riz Mouj Co. directed by Mohammad Kheirandish/Tuca Animation Studio (Iran)
“Cake” (WIP) by Anna P
“NoName Walk Cycle” by Ariel Victor (Australia)
5 Stars Geronimo Stilton #11: We'll Always Have Paris Lewis Trondheim Nanette McGuinness Papercutz 56 Pages Ages: 7 and up .......................... .................................... Back Cover: Geronimo Stilton is the editor of the Rodent’s Gazette, the most famous paper on Mouse Island. In his free time he loves to tell fun, happy stories. In this adventure, Geronimo [...]Add a Comment
There is a mind-boggling breadth of expression and experimentation across the contemporary global animation scene. The short animation clips and exercises that I offer in Animated Fragments represent just a glimpse of the fresh ideas being explored by today’s animators:
“QQQ” Trailer by YungSung Song (South Korea/Japan)
“Feuerwerk” by Joshua Catalano (France)
“More Than A Feeling” by Matt Reynolds (US)
“CVTV” by Saigo No Shudan (Japan)
“Feminine Flow” by Rickard Bengtsson (Sweden): “This animation, except the subtle background texture, is created 100% in After Effects. All of the animation is created and keyframed by hand using lots of masks and layers.”
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A Provençal sunset. Aren't those colours amazing? Another lovely way of putting the year to bed before greeting the new one, isn't it? Cheers.
We’re going to start featuring the most interesting, creative and original animated music videos every weekend in a new section we call the Weekend Groove. Submit you vidoes HERE.
Audio excerpt of “Gangsta Riddim” remix by Roel Funcken. Gangsta Riddim (Original) by SCANONE.
“Over You” is a music video clip originally made for the song “Nobody’s Fool” by Parov Stelar. The Berlin-based musician Michal Krajczok wrote and produced his song “Over You” especially for this video, featuring the voice of Larissa Blau. The video is directed, designed and animated by Drushba Pankow (Alexandra Kardinar and Volker Schlecht), with additional animation by Maxim Vassiliev.
A music video for Hibou Blaster
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Cantaloupe are a synth-guitar/bass-drums trio from Nottingham, UK, formed in January 2011. Drawing influences from Afro-pop to Krautrock to the avant garde, who aim to make infectuous and thoroughly pleasing instrumental pop music.
What constitutes a “lost” film? The traditional definition is a film whose existence is confirmed but of which no prints can be found. But in this day and age of infinite abundance on the Internet, there is also another type of lost film. This is the film of which prints readily exist, but the film is rarely screened publicly, unavailable online, and is not part of the general animation community’s discussion.
An even more personal definition of a “lost” film is simply a film that I wish to see and am unable to find. I plan to regularly highlight these films in this new feature called “Lost Films.” It represents a desire to draw attention to the rich history of animated filmmaking and the various ways that artists have explored the medium throughout the years.
The first “lost film” is Calaveras (Skulls, 1969), a French short directed by Jacques Colombat (b. 1940) and produced by Les films Armorial. Colombat, who was a protégé of the important French animation director Paul Grimault, was inspired by the artwork of Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada to create his Day of the Dead-themed short. Using a combination of cel animation and cut-out, Colombat animated the film with Jean Vimenet and Jean-François Laguionie, the latter of whom recently released the feature Le Tableau.
Colombat appears to still be alive and well. In fact, a photo of him riding a bicycle around Paris randomly ended up on the Associated Press last October.
The film’s running times that I’ve seen vary between 11 and 15 minutes. Here is the most complete synopsis of Calaveras that can be found online:
An unusual and aesthetically interesting cartoon, set in Mexico at the time of the defeat of Maximilian I by the Republican forces under Juárez. It tells the story of an imprisoned Algerian soldier who, having been left behind when Maximilian’s French troops were forced to withdraw, faces a firing squad. While he is in jail he dreams of life outside, but eventually his time comes. According to popular Mexican belief however, men continue their previous lives in the state of skeletons and there is every indication that the soldier will soon find his place in this new world.
The adventurous design and color of Calaveras excites the senses. I can’t imagine how these drawings are animated as cut-outs—or if they’re even animated—but I’d love to find out.
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All the fat in Fat is contained in its title; the film itself is a lean and mean laugh machine that offers a goofy series of gags hinged on a surreal visual concept. The 2011 Supinfocom Arles graduation short was directed by Gary Fouchy, Yohann Auroux Bernard, and Sebastien De Oliveira Bispo. The film’s website includes some funny concept work and animated GIFs.Add a Comment
Ten years ago, at the Elysée Treaty’s 40th anniversary, Alain Juppé characterized France and Germany as the “privileged guardians of the European cohesion.” As the European Union’s key countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of their bilateral Treaty, Europe traverses a whole set of crises making the Franco-German “entente élémentaire” (Willy Brandt) appear as ever more important for providing or preserving European crisis management, decision-making, and, in whatever exact form: cohesion.
The endurance and the adaptability of the bilateral Franco-German connection—in spite of frequently dramatic domestic political changes (say changes of governments, parties in power, key personnel, economic rises, social upheavals, among others), regional European transformations (including widening and deepening European integration, the fall of the Iron Curtain, German unification), and wider international rupture or dynamism (such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, or burgeoning globalization)—is a remarkable feature of European politics of the past half-century. Different combinations of a variety of factors have nurtured both resilience and adaptability of this bilateral link over time, political domains, and specific issues:
In 1963, the Elysée Treaty crowned the period of Franco-German friendship following World War II. At the same time, the Treaty offered a frame for an emergent and lasting “special” bilateral relationship between France and Germany, and inserted the Franco-German connection at the very core of the evolving institutions and decision-making processes of the European Union and its various predecessors.
And very much in the spirit of its godfathers and signatories Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, the Elysée Treaty helped to base this novel sort of Franco-German relationship not only on an unusual set of bilateral intergovernmental institutionalization, but also on linkages and interchange among the French and Germans beyond and below the intergovernmental level. Most notably, the past 50 years have seen the emergence and flourishing of a massive set of publicly funded or organizationally supported “parapublic” institutions and institutionalization, such as the Franco-German Youth Office (with some 8 million participants in exchange programs since its foundation); some 2200 “twinnings” (jumelages, Partnerschaften) between French and German towns or regional entities; connections between high schools and universities; and, later, the creation of the Franco-German TV channel ARTE, and the framework of the Franco-German University.
To be sure, the Franco-German connection of the past five decades has experienced numerous disagreements, crises, or even phases of protracted tensions. In retrospect, the Gaullist period, with fundamental and seemingly insurmountable divergence in French and German strategic orientations, might appear as the most trying. And yet, neither this phase, nor various enduring differences in political or economic inclinations, nor a motley crew of disagreements, have either broken the bilateral connection or led it to degenerate into marginal relevance.
At the celebrations of the Elysée Treaty’s 50th anniversary, and the beginning of what France and Germany have baptized “the Franco-German year,” two developments threaten the continued endurance and political relevance of this bilateral relationship in Europe: on the one hand, the seemingly deep disparities across major policy fields during this period of severe crises; on the other, an apparently increasing gap in economic performance and competitiveness.
As for the former, most visibly perhaps, France and Germany have so far not succeeded in developing bilateral compromises so as to decisively help manage or overcome the Eurozone crisis. Or, for that matter, even to define a coherent approach in dealing with this crisis and its possible implications for the future of European governance in the monetary realm or beyond. In the policy fields of foreign, security, and defense—equally of supreme importance—France’s and Germany’s disparate strategic cultures persist, and their visions of the EU’s role in international politics and security continue to diverge, most strikingly perhaps when it comes to the use of military force. Some of the key questions in these domains—how to position oneself and to act in an often dangerous and violent world in which the most comfortable and comforting answers do not always suffice—continue especially to plague German elites.
However, it is the seemingly ever worsening loss of economic performance and competitiveness on France’s side, the erosion of the domestic economic bases of France’s bilateral and European standing, and the growing bilateral asymmetry in power and influence between the two countries, that pose the greatest challenge for the future of the Franco-German connection and for the survival of the Eurozone. While it is hardly conceivable that the Franco-German relationship could be based on a France lastingly in the role of the junior partner, the European Union more than ever requires strong leadership in order to navigate through its arguably deepest set of crises since its emergence from the treaties of Paris and Rome. Neither German hegemony, nor frequently weakened or inchoate supranational European institutions, nor another bilateralism or minilateral grouping is available to act as a replacement for the joint Franco-German role at the core of Europe.
The ability of France to face the realities of decline, and the courage and political will of its leaders to comprehensively reform the social and economic model—no matter how painful or divisive domestically—are indispensable conditions for that the tremendous success story of the Franco-German connection in Europe to continue and blossom beyond the celebrations of the Elysée Treaty’s anniversary and the Franco-German year.
Ulrich Krotz and Joachim Schild are the authors of Shaping Europe: France, Germany, and Embedded Bilateralism from the Elysée Treaty to Twenty-First Century Politics. Ulrich Krotz is Professor at the European University Institute, where he holds the Chair in International Relations in the Political Science Department and the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Joachim Schild is Professor of Political Science at the University of Trier.
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On Sunday, 29 March 1739, two young men, aspiring authors and student friends from Eton College and Cambridge, departed Dover for the Continent. The twenty-two year old Horace Walpole, 4th earl of Orford (1717–1797), was setting out on his turn at the Grand Tour. Accompanying him on the journey, which would take them through France to Italy, was Thomas Gray (1716–1771), future author of the “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”. The pair stayed abroad until September 1741, when an argument saw Gray return to England alone.
Travelling through Catholic domains, they would witness at arms-length one of the longest transfers of papal power in history, only four days shorter than the Interregnum, later imposed by the Napoleonic French, between the expulsion from the Papal States of Pius VI (who died 1799) and the election of Pius VII (14 March 1800). The on-going power struggle between the papacy and Catholic rulers of Europe, particularly with France, Spain and Portugal, had reached new levels of intensity — the latter two objecting in particular to unwelcome Jesuit interference in their treatment (read, “mistreatment”) of native populations in their overseas empires. The issue was still critical twenty years later, when Voltaire, under the pseudonym M. Demand, wrote to the Journal encyclopédique (1 April 1759), in the guise of identifying the real author of Candide, offering in partial evidence reports from the confrontations between Jesuits and colonial officials over their dealings with native populations in Paraguay.
The correspondence and journals of Gray and Walpole chart their travels, visits and discoveries across France and into Italy. The two young English travellers arrived in Florence on 16 December 1739, after a two days’ journey from Bologna across the Apennines. It was only two months before the ancient drama of papal passing and election would attract the attention of the world. Gray reported this news, when it came, to his friend Dr Thomas Wharton, writing on Saturday, 12 March 1740:
I conclude you will write to me; won’t you? oh! yes, when you know, that in a week I set out for Rome, & that the Pope is dead, & that I shall be (I should say, God willing; & if nothing extraordinary intervene; & if I’m alive, & well; & in all human probability) at the Coronation of a new one.
Clement XII (Papa Clemens duodecimus, born Lorenzo Corsini) had been pope from his election on 12 July 1730. He was the oldest person to become pope until Benedict XVI was elected in 2005. Clement died on 6 February 1740, and was eventually succeeded by Benedict XIV (Papa Benedictus quartus decimus, born Pròspero Lorenzo Lambertini), who was elected six months later on 17 August 1740. In a well-known anecdote of the election, Benedict is reported to have said to the cardinals: “If you wish to elect a saint, choose Gotti; a statesman, Aldrovandi; an honest man, me” (M. J. Walsh, Pocket Dictionary of Popes, London: Burns & Oates, 2006) — though as we will see from a contemporary report below, this is a rather colourless translation of the original.
A week later, Gray wrote to his mother Dorothy (Saturday, 19 March 1740):
The Pope is at last dead, and we are to set out for Rome on Monday next. The Conclave is still sitting there, and likely to continue so some time longer, as the two French Cardinals are but just arrived, and the German ones are still expected. It agrees mighty ill with those that remain inclosed: Ottoboni is already dead of an apoplexy; Altieri and several others are said to be dying, or very bad: Yet it is not expected to break up till after Easter. We shall lie at Sienna the first night, spend a day there, and in two more get to Rome. One begins to see in this country the first promises of an Italian spring, clear unclouded skies, and warm suns, such as are not often felt in England; yet, for your sake, I hope at present you have your proportion of them, and that all your frosts, and snows, and short-breaths are, by this time, utterly vanished. I have nothing new or particular to inform you of; and, if you see things at home go on much in their old course, you must not imagine them more various abroad. The diversions of a Florentine Lent are composed of a sermon in the morning, full of hell and the devil; a dinner at noon, full of fish and meager diet; and, in the evening, what is called a Conversazione, a sort of aſsembly at the principal people’s houses, full of I cannot tell what: Besides this, there is twice a week a very grand concert.
Two weeks later, after their arrival in Rome, Gray wrote another Saturday letter to his mother (2 April 1740):
St. Peter’s I saw the day after we arrived, and was struck dumb with wonder. I there saw the Cardinal d’Auvergne, one of the French ones, who, upon coming off his journey, immediately repaired hither to offer up his vows at the high altar, and went directly into the Conclave; the doors of which we saw opened to him, and all the other immured Cardinals came thither to receive him. Upon his entrance they were closed again directly. It is supposed they will not come to an agreement about a Pope till after Easter, though the confinement is very disagreeable.”
The conflict between catholic rulers, their national churches and the papacy led to prolonged disagreements and manoeuvrings in the Conclave, as evidenced by this letter from Walpole and Gray to their schoolboy friend, then fellow of King’s College Cambridge (Rome, 14 May 1740):
Boileau’s Discord dwelt in a College of Monks. At present the Lady is in the Conclave. Cardinal Corsini has been interrogated about certain Millions of Crowns that are absent from the Apostolic Chamber; He refuses giving Account, but to a Pope: However he has set several Arithmeticians to work, to compose Summs, & flourish out Expenses, which probably never existed. Cardinal Cibo pretends to have a Banker at Genoa, who will prove that he has received three Millions on the Part of the Eminent Corsini. This Cibo is a madman, but set on by others. He had formerly some great office in the government, from whence they are generally rais’d to the Cardinalate. After a time, not being promoted as he expected, he resign’d his Post, and retir’d to a Mountain where He built a most magnificient Hermitage. There He inhabited for two years, grew tir’d, came back and received the Hat.
Other feuds have been between Card. Portia and the Faction of Benedict the Thirteenth, by whom He was made Cardinal. About a month ago, he was within three Votes of being Pope. he did not apply to any Party, but went gleaning privately from all & of a sudden burst out with a Number; but too soon, & that threw Him quite out. Having been since left out of their Meetings, he ask’d one of the Benedictine Cardinals the reason; who replied, that he never had been their Friend, & never should be of their assemblies; & did not even hesitate to call him Apostate. This flung Portia into such a Rage that He spit blood, & instantly left the Conclave with all his Baggage. But the great Cause of their Antipathy to Him, was His having been one of the Four, that voted for putting Coscia to Death; Who now regains his Interest, & may prove somewhat disagreable to his Enemies; Whose Honesty is not abundantly heavier than His Own. He met Corsini t’other Day, & told Him, He heard His Eminence had a mind to his Cell: Corsini answer’d He was very well contented with that He had. Oh, says Coscia, I don’t mean here in the Conclave; but in the Castle St. Angelo.
With all these Animosities, One is near having a Pope. Card. Gotti, an Old, inoffensive Dominican, without any Relations, wanted yesterday but two voices; & is still most likely to succeed. Card. Altieri has been sent for from Albano, whither he was retir’d upon account of his Brother’s Death, & his own Illness; & where He was to stay till the Election drew nigh. There! there’s a sufficient Competency of Conclave News, I think. We have miserable Weather for the Season; Coud You think I was writing to You by my fireside at Rome in the middle of May? the Common People say tis occasion’d by the Pope’s Soul, which cannot find Rest.
As the bickering and accusations continued, Gray returned to Florence, where he reported to his father Philip (10 July 1740):
The Conclave we left in greater uncertainty than ever; the more than ordinary liberty they enjoy there, and the unusual coolneſs of the season, makes the confinement leſs disagreeable to them than common, and, consequently, maintains them in their irresolution. There have been very high words, one or two (it is said) have come even to blows; two more are dead within this last month, Cenci and Portia; the latter died distracted; and we left another (Altieri) at the extremity: Yet nobody dreams of an election till the latter end of September. All this gives great scandal to all good catholics, and everybody talks very freely on the subject.
Finally, on Sunday, 21 August 1740, Gray wrote again to his mother with the news of the new pope’s election:
The day before yesterday arrived the news of a Pope; and I have the mortification of being within four days journey of Rome, and not seeing his coronation, the heats being violent, and the infectious air now at its height. We had an instance, the other day, that it is not only fancy. Two country fellows, strong men, and used to the country about Rome, having occasion to come from thence hither, and travelling on foot, as common with them, one died suddenly on the road; the other got hither, but extremely weak, and in a manner stupid; he was carried to the hospital, but died in two days. So, between fear and lazineſs, we remain here, and must be satisfied with the accounts other people give us of the matter. The new Pope is called Benedict XIV. being created Cardinal by Benedict XIII. the last Pope but one. His name is Lambertini, a noble Bolognese, and Archbishop of that city. When I was first there, I remember to have seen him two or three times; he is a short, fat man, about sixty-five years of age, of a hearty, merry countenance, and likely to live some years. He bears a good character for generosity, affability, and other virtues; and, they say, wants neither knowledge nor capacity. The worst side of him is, that he has a nephew or two; besides a certain young favourite, called Melara, who is said to have had, for some time, the arbitrary disposal of his purse and family. He is reported to have made a little speech to the Cardinals in the Conclave, while they were undetermined about an election, as follows: ‘Most eminent Lords, here are three Bolognese of different characters, but all equally proper for the Popedom. If it be your pleasures, to pitch upon a Saint, there is Cardinal Gotti; if upon a Politician, there is Aldrovandi; if upon a Booby, here am I.’ The Italian is much more expreſsive, and, indeed, not to be translated; wherefore, if you meet with any body that understands it, you may show them what he said in the language he spoke it. ‘Eminſsimi. Sigri. Ci siamo tré, diversi sì, mà tutti idonei al Papato. Si vi piace un Santo, c’ è l’Gotti; se volete una testa scaltra, e Politica, c’ è l’Aldrovandé;c se un Coglione, eccomi!’ Cardinal Coscia is restored to his liberty, and, it is said, will be to all his benefices. Corsini (the late Pope’s nephew) as he has had no hand in this election, it is hoped, will be called to account for all his villanous practices.”
Dr. Robert V. McNamee is the Director of the Electronic Enlightenment Project, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.
Electronic Enlightenment is a scholarly research project of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, and is available exclusively from Oxford University Press. It is the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas, and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century — reconstructing one of the world’s great historical “conversations”.
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Image Credit: (1) Print Collection portrait file, Thomas Gray, Portraits. Source NYPL Digital Gallery
(2) Print Collection portrait file, B, Pope Benedict XIV. Source NYPL Digital Gallery
The post Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole on the grand tour to spread news of a papal election, 1739/1740 appeared first on OUPblog.Add a Comment
When great powers decline it is often the case that financial troubles are a key component of the slide. The vertiginous decline of a state’s financial system under extreme pressure, year after year, not only saps the strength and volume of financial activity, it also proves extremely difficult to reverse, and the great risk is that a disastrous situation is worsened by misguided and ultimately catastrophic attempts on the part of a government to dig itself out of its hole. So great does the eventual debt become that there is little hope of repaying even a majority of the capital, even with decades of peace and low spending ahead. The protracted financial and economic crisis that began in the West in 2007 provides an appropriate contemporary backdrop for a fresh examination of the decline of France’s financial system in the early eighteenth century under just such a mountain of poorly-backed debt. In the final decades of the seventeenth century France had been the leading great power in the European states system, indeed the only superpower capable of projecting significant force on multiple war fronts. Yet within a quarter of a century it had lost this comparative international advantage, as its financial strength degenerated alongside its military power.
France got into such a terrible mess in the final two decades of Louis XIV’s reign. While war was the essential cause of heightened state spending, as the largest economy in Europe France should have been able to sustain a protracted and extensive conflict, but it could not. The underlying problem was the combination of two classic, fatal ingredients: a weak fiscal base, and a precarious and expensive credit system. The tax base was chronically enfeebled by vast numbers of exemptions and privileges that the government only began to tackle in 1695. But tentative attempts to make the elites — the top 2-3% — contribute more to the costs of the state would, over the following 90 years, prove politically contentious and divisive, sapping the legitimacy of the monarchy. As for the weakness of credit, this arose not just from the problem of weak fiscal backing and the fact much of it was supplied by those entrepreneurs charged with tax collection. It also stemmed from the inherent unreliability of a government dominated by an absolute monarch, which at times was willing to threaten dealers in the foreign exchange and public debt markets with prison and professional proscription for pricing financial instruments on a realistic but unfavourable basis. Compounding these issues were huge concerns over the undependable and sclerotic legal framework for lending money at interest. France was, in short, overregulated, but capriciously so.
In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14) this system unravelled spectacularly. As tax yields declined the government pursued dangerous expedients, including the manipulation of the value of the coinage and the issuing of vast quantities of Mint bills: a hybrid of paper money and short-term credit notes. Furthermore, rather than relying overwhelmingly on well-organised advances on tax proceeds from leading tax collectors, the government turned the paymasters of the armed forces into state creditors on a giant scale. Louis XIV’s government became so dependent on these men and other entrepreneurs supplying the army and navy that they were able to make exorbitant demands. Some of them even penetrated the corridors of power as junior ministers, in an early form of military-industrial complex. All this came at a very high price indeed. The financiers and suppliers were rapacious, though they also needed to protect their own solvency and operations by ramping up costs as a form of insurance against arbitrary state management and the increasing number of revenue sources that were failing. These revenue failures played havoc with the system of appropriating revenue sources to expenditure, which was already being disastrously mismanaged by senior officials, and this earmarking chaos in turn threw the state even further into debt in a desperate attempt to keep the failing war effort going. This war effort was pursued much of the time beyond France’s borders, putting yet further strain on the state: Louis XIV needed vast amounts of foreign exchange to pay and supply his armies and allies in Spain, Italy, Bavaria, the Low Countries, and even Hungary. The volume of foreign currency required would naturally have pushed up its price, but the turbulent and deteriorating monetary and fiscal backdrop led international bankers to build astronomical costs into their exchange contracts for moving state money abroad. The failure to control their transactions, the separation of risky payment sources from their additional instruments of guarantee, and the short-selling of this paper precipitated a monumental crash of the exchange clearing system in early 1709 in Lyon, from which the city never really recovered.
By the time of Louis XIV’s death in 1715 French state debt had risen more than three-fold from the size it had been thirty years earlier, and much of that increase was down to a few short years between 1702 and 1708 — the early modern period may in many ways have seen a much slower pace of life than we experience, but financial crises could unfold roughly at a similar pace. The real danger is that it can take as long or far longer to effect a stabilisation and recovery, thus tempting governments into dangerous policy decisions to try to generate swift recoveries. In the years after 1715 the Regency government for the boy king Louis XV took exactly this course, seeking to liquidate much of the state debt by swallowing the snake-oil solution peddled by John Law of hitching debt to a national bank backed by vast speculation on the highly uncertain economic future of overseas trade and colonisation. The subsequent liquidation of Law’s System forced the government into inflicting enormous haircuts on creditors, further eroding confidence in the monarchy, while future generations were still saddled with levels of debt that the state machinery was not designed to cope with. It also condemned the French body politic to a series of destabilising political struggles over state finance that culminated in final breakdown and revolution.
Guy Rowlands is Director of the Centre for French History and Culture at the University of St Andrews, and author of The Financial Decline of a Great Power: War, Influence, and Money in Louis XIV’s France (Oxford, 2012). He is also the author of The Dynastic State and the Army under Louis XIV: Royal Service and Private Interest, 1661-1701 (Cambridge, 2002), for which he was co-winner of the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize (2002).
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Image credit: Louis XIV and His Family circa 1710. Wallace Collection. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Paul Castera is an illustrator with a probable connection to the animation world considering the types of scenes and styles that appear in his images, and the fact that I followed a link trail to his work that was just filthy with animators. See Paul’s work here.
There is also a bit of animation here by Paul, completed at the Ecole Professionnelle Supérieure d’Arts graphique et d’Architecture de la Ville de Paris, or EPSAA for those who don’t have all day.
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Someday I’m going to run out of books by the Williamsons where some people go on a road trip through part of Europe and at least one person isn’t what they seem and someone falls in love with the chauffeur. And on that day I will be very sad.
The Motor Maid has some really, really great bits, but mostly I enjoyed it as a good example of the Williamsons’ mini genre. (Has anyone encountered one of these chauffeurs-and-sightseeing-and-incognito books written by anyone else?) See, on one hand there’s the beginning, which takes place on a train and has a rough parallel to the beginning of Miss Cayley’s Adventures and made me think I might be starting my new favorite Williamsons book, but on the other hand this might be the snobbiest Williamsons book ever.
Our heroine is Lys d’Angely, a half French, half American orphan who’s running away from her surviving relatives so they can’t make her marry a massively wealthy manufacturer of corn plasters. New money is inherently disgusting to the Williamsons, but they’ve also made him personally disgusting, whether for the benefit of their less prejudiced readers or because they can’t conceive of a manufacturer of corn plasters who isn’t super gross, I don’t know. Anyway, Lys’ friend Pam has found her a job as companion to an elderly Russian princess and a first class ticket to Cannes to get her to it. And then Pam promptly disappears to America with her husband because the rest of the book requires that she not be on hand to give Lys any further assistance.
I should stop mocking this bit of the book though, because it’s awesome. Lys has an upper berth on the train, and the woman in the lower one is noisily unable to sleep. Also, her bulldog is runnng around on the floor below, making threatening noises. Eventually Lys gets sick of listening to the woman complain to herself about how awful she feels, so she climbs down and forcibly undresses her. Then they drink tea and eat snacks and Lys makes friends with the bulldog and everything is basically perfect. This is the bit that reminded me of Lois Cayley’s initial interactions with Lady Georgina, and I started hoping that Lys would take a job with Miss Paget and that they would have awesome adventures together. Instead, Miss Paget leaves Lys with her English address and the promise of a job if she ever needs one, and Lys arrives in Cannes to find that her prospective employer, Princess Boriskoff, has just died.
This is where the main body of the plot kicks in. An impoverished Irish noblewoman (because the Williamsons sometimes have trouble writing books without those) helps Lys find a job as lady’s maid to the nouveau riche wife of a manufacturer of liver pills. Both Lys and Lady Kilmarny are horrified by Lady Turnour and her husband, but Lys is broke, and this job will get her back to England. And while Lady Turnour is in fact awful — although I blame this more on the authors than the character — Lys ends up enjoying accompanying the Turnours on their trip through the South of France. This is a little bit because of the scenery, but mostly because of the chauffeur. His name is Jack Dane and he’s in a similar situation to Lys’ — he’s clearly a gentleman but has had to hire himself out as a chauffeur for reasons he doesn’t care to explain. They quickly become friends, and have pretty good chemistry of a very Williamsons-ish kind.
Having wound up the mechanism of the plot, the Williamsons pretty much let it toddle along by itself from there. The ending is abrupt, and makes the beginning feel too long, maybe, but The Motor Maid is a lot of fun. Except that I kept stopping and wondering whether the Williamsons — and their characters — are always quite this mean about people who aren’t like them. Lys and Jack are both poor but aristocratic, and they spend a lot of time mocking the Turnours and their stepson, who were all born into the lower classes. Neither of them associates at all with anyone in their current social position, and very few of the people they interact with on their travels meet with their approval. It’s an interesting setup, having the actual gentlefolk waiting on the social climbers, but the execution is a little too mean-spirited for it to be as fun as it could be. And in the end, the Williamsons were even a little bit mean about Miss Paget.
This is going to make it sound like I didn’t like The Motor Maid, but I did, a lot. It’s as Williamsons as it gets, and I like them. It just also made me a little bit uncomfortable.
This looks like a visually lush and promising animated feature. The Day of the Crows (Le Jour des Corneilles) is a hand-drawn film based on a novel by Canadian writer Jean-François Beauchemin and directed by Jean-Christophe Dessaint. Dessaint was mostly recently the first assistant director of the Antoine Delesvaux and Joann Sfar feature The Rabbi’s Cat. The screenplay adaptation was written by Amandine Taffin. French New Wave director Claude Chabrol, who passed away in 2010, provided a voice for the film.
Day of the Crows will be released in France on October 24. The France/Belgium/Canada/Luxembourg co-production was made by Finalement, Melusine Productions, Walking The Dog, and Max Films Animation. The synopsis:
In a cabin in the deep of the forest, a child and his father lead a wild and hard life in utmost isolation. The child grows up fearing and admiring his father, with the ghosts haunting the forest as his only companions. Until the day he discovers a neighboring village and meets a young girl there, Manon. At her side, he discovers that love exists. From then on he won’t cease to search for the place where his father’s love for him is hiding.
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|The Chateau de Chenonceau that plays an important part in Black Radishes|
These hypnotizing rhythmic visuals were created for BBBlaster, a VJing/illustration/animation initiative by twenty-year-old artist Loup Druelle. The aim of the project is to promote animation and electro music in northern France. Druelle’s imagery would appear to be influenced, intentionally or not, by tribal art aesthetics, which adds a pleasing undercurrent of visual mystery to the work.
Her work was previously featured in the Brew’s Animated Fragments series. The video below gives an idea of how the BBBLaster animation is applied in performance.Add a Comment