Friday, February 13, 2009

Oh those idealistic authors....

Percy Blysse Shelley was not the only author was a rather too-idealistic view of how his work would be received.

Olympe de Gouges was a prolific pamphleteer, playwright and novelist during the French Revolution, who took an unusually proactive role within French society. She was widowed at 18 and, with her husband's fortune, began publishing her work. In order to get her opinions heard in public (since women could not mount the tribunal and give speeches in the National Assembly except in extraordinarily rare cases), she published her own pamphlets and posted them on walls, houses, lamp posts, trees, buildings... during the French Revolution, one of the most effective methods of disseminating information was to post pamphlets on every available stationary surface.

However, Olympe de Gouges decided to post hundreds of copies of her pamphlet "Three governments' battle to the death", in which monarchy, federalism and republicanism duke it out for the Grand Prize of France and de Gouges takes care to point out the good points of each government, including the monarchy. She chose to do this in the middle of a civil war between monarchists and republicans, in Paris, no less, the seat of the republican government.

Olympe de Gouges expected to open debate and to insert her opinion into governmental procedures, as had happened when she published a pamphlet offering to act as Louis XVI's trial lawyer.

She got arrested instead.

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