Why a novel about the Paris Commune

Why write about events so long ago, specifically the late 19th century? Because it's terribly exciting, and because it can tell us a lot of how and why things got to be the way they are today. This was a period of very rapid changes, all of which contributed to and their effects magnified by the tumultuous 2-month life of the Paris Commune (18 March - 24 May 1871):
  • the linking of distant places by the railways, facilitating not only commerce and diplomacy, but also labor organizing nationally and even internationally; 
  • the invention of mass journalism, spreading ideas and also creating a new class of intellectual workers — and stimulating (by reporting, diatribes, proposals) all of the other many changes;
  • mechanization of industries such as textile, mining, chemicals, printing and others, bringing with it the creation of an industrial proletariat and the marginalization of specialized crafts workers, all of them anxious to defend or improve their lot as the terrain shifted from under them;
  • revolutionary movements of many forms and ideals — utopian Fourerists, anarchists around Bakunin, and socialists and communists, some more or less influenced by Marx;
  • international wars — France and Prussia, most immediately — suddenly changed the relations of forces among countries, industries, and regions,
  • and great production and innovation in literature, painting and sculpture as artists, jolted by all these events, sought new ways to respond. 
I hope only to suggest some of this. It's keeping me busy.


Anonymous said...

Your initial question seems strange. Why not?

Geoffrey Fox said...

Well, it doesn't seem to fit the formula for best-sellers. Or maybe it does, I don't really know if there is a formula. Anyway, I've listed the reasons that compel me to write it.