By Robert Zaretsky

Within the French Camargue—the delta surrounding the mouth of the Rhone River and a part of the southern “nation” of Occitania—the bull is a strong icon of nationalism, literature, and tradition. How this got here to be—how the Camargue bull got here to confront the French cock, venerable image of a unified and republican France—is the tale informed during this inventive examine. Robert Zaretsky considers how in fin-de-si?cle France the younger author Folco de Baroncelli, encouraged through the background of the yank West, particularly the destiny of the Oglala Sioux and different local American peoples, reinvented the historical past of Occitania. Galvanized by means of the instance set through Buffalo invoice Cody, Baroncelli recast the Camargue as “le far-west” of France, growing the “immemorial” traditions he battled to guard. Zaretsky’s research examines the artistic rigidity among heart and outer edge within the making of recent France: simply because the political and highbrow elite of the 3rd Republic “invented” a undeniable form of France, so too did a coterie of southern writers, together with Baroncelli, “invent” a undeniable type of Camargue. the tale of the way the Camargue bull challenged the French cock during this ideological and cultural Wild West deepens our appreciation of the complicated dynamic that has created modern France.

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Additional info for Cock and Bull Stories: Folco de Baroncelli and the Invention of the Camargue

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Yet it is not clear if this enlightened perspective is due to there being no mise à mort (ritual killing) at the end of the contest or because the event allowed the people to express their ‘‘immemorial’’ traditions. Revolutionary courses were, however, exceptional. Through the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth centuries, the ‘‘enlightened’’ attitude of the French state most often translated into sheer hostility. The initial tolerance shown by revolutionary Paris was soon replaced by repression.

At the risk of being gorged, they finally cut the bull’s throat with a blow of the knife, winning the applause of an imbecilic and bloodthirsty crowd. ’’≤∂ Bérenger Féraud’s attitude, combining the rationalism of the Enlightenment with its distrust of the people, was commonplace among the local intelligentsia during the first decades of the nineteenth century. For example, the Journal du Gard had pointedly criticized the course of 1813. ’’≤∑ Nevertheless, national and local officials were incapable of maintaining a consistent attitude toward the course.

Yet many commentators refused to be won over. The Protestant minister and author Emilien Frossard described a course that took place in the Nîmes arena in 1830. While his fellow spectators, numbering more than twenty thousand, seemed to enjoy the event, Frossard was embarrassed and unhappy. ’’≥≥ A few years later, a journalist for the Courrier du Gard was no more impressed than Frossard. ’’≥∂ Finally, in 1838 the liberal writer Abel Hugo provided a disdainful account of the course in Nîmes: ‘‘The bloody games of ancient Rome have been replaced in our own time by courses de taureaux .

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