I had been looking forward to this read for a while. It had been on my personal ‘must read’ list for a couple of years. You can probably guess where I’m going with this: I was a little disappointed.
Part of it is my selfness as a lover of poetry and Darnton gives little shift to the importance of poetry in and of itself.
I suppose I should summarize a little. In 1749, the police went a little crazy trying to track down the origins of some satirical poems mocking King Louis XV (and some of his ministers; his mistress, the famed Madame Pompadour [her maiden name is ‘Poisson,’ French for fish and some of the songs used that fact and… let’s just jokes about fish and the smell of a woman’s privates go way back]; and the King’s apparent cowardice in sending Bonnie Prince Charlie to die at the hands of the English). The tale goes over how very strata of society intersected with these satirical poems, usually set to popular music of the day.
But I wanted to know more about the poetry itself, its writing, and its writers. Surely it means something that poetry, literature was considered a threat.
Also, the style of the writing of the book was a little undergraduate.