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Evenings with an Author: Stephen Clarke in Conversation with Brian Spence (Abbey Bookshop)
27 November 2018 @ 19 h 30 min - 21 h 00 min
Stephen Clarke will be discussing his latest history book, The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. Like all his history books, it debunks the received view of events, combining serious research with a humorous tone. The book was inspired by a suspicion that Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité did not appear magically as soon as the Bastille was stormed, or Louis XVI’s head was removed. Using Assemblée Nationale (French parliament) archives, speeches and newspaper articles from the time, and autobiographies of people who lived through the Revolution, he has tried to present a more balanced picture. Louis XVI was not an indifferent oaf (he tried for years to reduce aristocratic privileges), and was popular with most French people right until 1791. “Heroes” such as Danton and Robespierre were flawed characters, and led France into political chaos and ultimately civil war. Ordinary people, and especially women, gained little from the events of 1789-95. And there are true heroes and heroines of the Revolution who rarely get a mention.
Clarke has lived in France for 25 years. He self-published his first novel, A Year in the Merde (2004), became a worldwide bestseller. Since then, he has written five more Merde novels, as well as non-fiction books such as How the French Won Waterloo (Or Think They Did), The French Revolution & What Went Wrong, and 1000 Years of Annoying the French, which inspired the permanent collection at the Centre Culturel de l’Entente Cordiale at the Château d’Hardelot, which Stephen curated. He has also written stage shows, The Merde Factor, and L’Entente Cordiale en Paroles et Musique, jokes for stand-up comedians, radio plays and sketches, and performs his songs in comedy clubs.