2023 SHORTLIST

Robert Darnton

The Revolutionary Temper - Paris 1748 -1789

To understand the rise of what he calls ‘the revolutionary temper’, Darnton draws on a lifetime’s study of pamphlets, books, underground newsletters, songs and public performances, exploring Paris as an information society not unlike our own. Its news circuits were centred in cafes and market-places, on park benches, and under the Palais-Royal’s Tree of Cracow, a favourite gathering-place for gossips. He shows how the events of forty years – from disastrous treaties, official corruption and royal scandal to thrilling hot-air balloon ascents and a new conception of the nation – all entered the collective consciousness of ordinary Parisians. As news and opinion travelled across this profoundly unequal society, public trust in royal authority eroded, its legitimacy was undermined, and the social order unravelled.

Robert Darnton

Robert Darnton

Robert Darnton is Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian, Emeritus, Harvard University. The author of acclaimed, widely translated works in French history, he is a scholar of global stature, a Chevalier in the Légion d’Honneur and winner of the National Humanities Medal. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.