Notes and Remembrances, 1871-1872

Notes and Remembrances, 1871-1872

Notes and Remembrances, 1871-1872

Notes and Remembrances, 1871-1872


This is an eyewitness account of the brutal ending of the civil war in France in 1871; the military destruction of the Commune of Paris by the national government in Versailles; and the subsequent legal judgments rendered against the insurgents. Ludovic Halévy, better known as a librettist and novelist, was not only a gifted writer, but a practical note taker who carried a notebook and pencils everywhere he walked. He recorded the sights, sounds, and smells of those days, as perhaps only a man of the theater would have, providing a readable account not likely to be encountered in conventional histories. The special horror of civil war, and the irrational behavior of the crowd under such circumstances, has never been better portrayed. This is a book that will delight readers of popular history as well as students seeking the inside story.

Roger L. Williams is retired from the University of Wyoming.


The defeat of france in 1870, followed by the violence of the RADIcal commune of Paris and ferocious civil war in 1871, are recent events, considering the repercussions still felt today. Even so, many people of significance in those days, whether in politics, journalism, or as conversationalists or animators, who appear fleetingly in Halévy’s notes, faded swiftly from the record. For the curious reader, most of them reappear in the alphabetical list below, providing they can be traced fairly easily. the cruel truth: some are gone beyond recall, and names generally well-remembered by the general reader are ruled out. the list, one might say, is the revenge of the forgotten.

For a full biography of Halévy himself, the unsurpassed work is by Eric C. Hansen, Ludovic Halévy: a Study of Frivolity and Fatalism in Nineteenth-Century France (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1987).

Appert, Félix-Antoine, 1817–1891. the French general assigned to head the military justice service in Versailles during the Commune.

Assi, Adolphe-Alphonse, 1841–1886. a mechanic. Elected to the Commune from the xi arrondissement; governor of Hôtel-de-Ville; arrested and deported to New Caledonia, 2 September 1871.

Auber, Daniel-François-Esprit, 1782–1871. a versatile composer. His greatest successes were in light opera. Halévy was only one of his several collaborators.

Aurelle de paladines, Louis-Jean-Baptiste d’, 1804–1877. French general who commanded the Army of the Loire until removed by Gambetta on 6 December 1870; then given command of the National Guard of the Seine by Thiers on 3 March 1871. Elected to the National Assembly on 8 February 1871.

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