An Electronic Cabaret

Poetry and the Police (Harvard University Press, 2010.

Harvard University Press’ web site makes available a dozen of the many songs that could be heard everywhere in Paris at the time of the so-called 1749 “Affair of the Fourteen” – subject of Robert Darnton’s most recent book Poetry and the Police: Communication Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris. The lyrics have been transcribed from contemporary chansonniers, and their melodies, identified by the first lines or titles of the songs, come from eighteenth-century sources collected in the Département de musique of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. They have been recorded by Hélène Delavault, accompanied on the guitar by Claude Pavy and provide an audio supplement to Darnton’s amusing inquiry into the infamous police crackdown on ordinary citizens for unauthorized poetry recitals during the reign of Louis XV. Click here to listen to An Electronic Cabaret: Paris Street Songs, 1748-50.