Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: France

944: Blood Royal by Eric Jager


944.026092: Jager, Eric. Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 336 pp. ISBN 978-0-3162-2451-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 940: History of Europe
  • 944: History of France
  • 944.02: Medieval period, 987 to 1589
  • 944.026: Reigns of Charles VI and Charles VII, 1380-1461
  • +092: Biography

In the 1660s, a magnificent scroll was discovered. At thirty feet long and dated to 1407, it contained the original investigations of the provost of Paris, a Monsieur Guillaume de Tigonville. He was tasked with an unenviable crime to solve: the death of Louis of Orleans. The death of a noble man was already enough stress to deal with, but Louis was a famous relative: his brother was the King of France. Charles VI, sometimes labeled the Beloved and other times called the Mad, periodically left the country under Louis’s rule when he wasn’t feeling well. And now the surrogate monarch had been murdered. Eric Jager’s Blood Royal sifts through the historical records to bring us a tale of treason, aristocratic intrigue, and medieval forensic techniques.

Read the rest of this entry »


840: French Literature Before 1800 by Bradley and Michell

840.8: Michell, Robert Bell and Robert Foster Bradley, eds. French Literature Before 1800. New York: F. S. Crofts & Co., 1936. 493 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 840: French literature
  • 840.8: Collection of literary texts of French literature in more than one form

The history of French literature can trace its roots back to the Chansons de Roland about the brave and chivalrous life of Roland, knight of the court of Charlemagne. From there, poetry, drama, and novels evolved to showcase the philosophy of their respective eras. Classical forms gave way to more modern and progressive ways for expressing the human condition. Robert Michell and Robert Bradley’s French Literature Before 1800 is a volume intended to give the reader a major overview of the lives, techniques, themes, and philosophies of those who shaped the landscape of French up to the 19th century.

Read the rest of this entry »

074: Paris Herald by Al Laney


074: Laney, Al. Paris Herald: The Incredible Newspaper. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1947. 330 pp.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer science, information, and general works
  • 070: Documentary media, educational media, news media, journalism, and publishing
  • 074: Journalism and newspapers in France and Monaco

James Gordon Bennett, Jr. had lost a duel and couldn’t bare the shame of living in New York any more. He was a rich socialite who had had several brushes with public and personal shame and so decided to sail his yacht to Europe. He was already the publisher of the New York Herald and when he got to Paris, he launched a newspaper in Paris for expatriates in 1887. He was a man of extreme whim and wild ambition. He had a habit of firing reporters and copyreaders and then forgetting about it the next day. In the end, his paper helped to transform the Paris reporting scene and bring new life to Americans living abroad.

Read the rest of this entry »

572: Brave Genius by Sean Carroll


572.8092: Carroll, Sean B. Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize. New York: Crown. 576 pp. ISBN 978-0-3079-5233-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 570: Biology
  • 572: Biochemistry
  • 572.8: Biochemical genetics
  • +092: Biography

Two unlikely fellows became friends during World War II. One, a writer whose athletic career was sidelined by a nasty bout with tuberculosis, and the other, a scientist trying to figure his life out, got caught up in the war effort on the side of the French Resistance. Sean B. Carroll’s Brave Genius tells the tales of Jacques Monod  and Albert Camus from the perspective of the war. Each helped to defend their fellow countrymen without ever donning a military uniform. Luckily, they survived. Without them, the world would have a little less rich.

Read the rest of this entry »

759: The Judgment of Paris by Ross King


759.409034: King, Ross. The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism. New York: Walker and Company, 2006. 374 pp. ISBN 0-8027-1466-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 700: Fine Arts
  • 750: Painting and paintings
  • 759: Geographical or historical treatment
  • 759.4: France
  • +09034: 19th century

Dewey section 759 has a ton of books to choose from because it’s all about the history of painting, painters, and painting movements. Human beings have been painting since they first figured how to create pigments in caves. For every painter, there’s a unique way to painting something, but the world of 19th century France didn’t see it that way. They had strict rules for what was considered good painting and what didn’t pass muster. Ross King’s Judgment of Paris recounts the ten years that led to the first modern schism in the art world. On one side was the Salon de Paris, championed by Ernest Messonier, and the other were the Impressionists, founded by a scrappy, radical artist known as Eduard Manet.

Read the rest of this entry »

018: Confessions of a Literary Archaeologist by Carlton Lake

018.20976431:  Lake, Carlton. Confessions of a Literary Archaeologist. New York: New Directions, 1990. 182 pp. ISBN 0-8112-1130-4.

Dewey Construction:

  • 000: General works
  • 010: Bibliography
  • 018: Catalogs arranged by author, main entry, date, or register number
  • 018.2: Classified catalogs of private and family libraries
  • +0976431: City of Austin, Texas, United States

Carlton Lake, after earning his BA from Boston College and an MA from Columbia, started collecting books, letters, and other works by modern French writers and artists. He lived in Paris from 1950 to 1975, learning the business of the local book dealers and immersing himself in the culture of post-war Europe. When he moved back to the US to become the curator of the French collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Collection at UT-Austin, he had amassed a collection of over 200,000 documents and 1,000 works of art. In his Confessions of a Literary Archaeologist, he relays a few stories from his Paris heyday.

Read the rest of this entry »

760: Toulouse-Latrec by Robert Burleigh

760.092: Burleigh, Robert. Toulouse-Latrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light. New York: Henry N. Adams, Inc., 2005. 29 pp. ISBN 0-8109-5867-8.

The arts, and especially the visual arts, are very spread all across in the 700s. Graphic arts (what we call “posters”) sit in the 760s. And, naturally enough, a biography of a graphic artist is classed at 760.092. Easy enough.

So…during the process of choosing which books I will read for each Dewey section, I was happy to find a book that went directly into 760. Most artists get filtered out to the 740s (drawing) or the 750s (painting), so finding a pure 760 was rather fortuitous (or so I thought).

And then I received the book. Nowhere—I repeat, nowhere—did I happen to notice the intended audience of this book. This was most likely because I was excited to find it and see that it was very cheap on Amazon.

It’s for teenagers.


This speaks to a complete lack of vetting on my part, and not to an ulterior obfuscation of the facts by the bookseller. In any case, I was a little let down.

BUT! Being the persevering bibliophile that I am, I read it anyway. Namely, because I didn’t know a damn thing about Henri de Toulouse-Latrec other than the fact that he was a French artist in the 19th century.

In 29 over-sized pages, Robert Burleigh gives a concise and start-to-finish biography of Toulouse-Latrec, while still exhibiting a representative sampling of his work. Henri de Toulouse-Latrec was born in 1864 to a family of aristocrats. He had a weakened skeletal structure and broke both of his legs at a young age. This disease stunted his growth, and he never reached five feet tall. He made up for this by adopting a wonderfully charming wit (and also by being moderately rich). After traveling to Paris to go to school, he improved his artistic skills and started capturing the life and landscape around him.

Henri made a wealth of friends and spent a lot of time at the Moulin Rouge in Montmartre (Paris suburb). So much so that he designed posters for them and the surrounding businesses, as well as painting portraits of all his friends and acquaintances. He died young, but created roughly 6,300 works of art. His style attempted to capture the uniqueness of every subject as well as the lights and motion of everyday life.

Someday, I will replace this book with an actual scholarly biography, but for now, this will do.

Burleigh undoubtedly leaves out some of the more harsh details of Parisian life in the late 19th century. As an artist, I would stereotypically expect some bouts of drug and alcohol abuse, but the author wisely edits those parts out. All in all, it makes a decent coffee table book and an avenue to start looking into one of the first graphic artists.