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Cock and Bull Stories: Folco de Baroncelli and the Invention by Robert Zaretsky

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 advised during this inventive examine. Robert Zaretsky considers how in fin-de-si?cle France the younger author Folco de Baroncelli, encouraged by way of the background of the yankee West, particularly the destiny of the Oglala Sioux and different local American peoples, reinvented the background of Occitania. Galvanized by means of the instance set by means of Buffalo invoice Cody, Baroncelli recast the Camargue as “le far-west” of France, developing the “immemorial” traditions he battled to guard. Zaretsky’s learn examines the inventive stress among heart and outer edge within the making of contemporary France: simply because the political and highbrow elite of the 3rd Republic “invented” a definite type of France, so too did a coterie of southern writers, together with Baroncelli, “invent” a definite form 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 advanced dynamic that has created modern France.

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The prefect, Emmanuel d’Argout, lent a careful ear to Singier’s plea—a mark of his sensitivity to the task he had been assigned. The king’s chief minister, Elie Decazes, had recently appointed d’Argout to this difficult post in a department where political factionalism was compounded by religious particularism. ≤π D’Argout, who was fully committed to the authority of the state—he ended his public career as governor of the Banque de France under Louis-Philippe—made a pragmatic decision that he hoped would both win local favor and impose Paris’s writ.

While he clearly thought it an insult and mark of shame, his parishioners undoubtedly nodded their heads proudly upon hearing the reference to antiquity. Several years later, Mgr. Plantier’s successor made the same strategic error. Like his predecessor, Mgr. Louis Besson was no less convinced of the course’s pagan character but spoke out much more forcefully on the issue. ’’∏π Besson concluded by forbidding his parishioners to attend these spectacles, but we can only wonder if he believed his parishioners were truly ready to join humanity.

Probably against its better judgment, the government reissued its warning against any further corridas. Almost immediately, the arena on the horns of a dilemma 35 directors announced another corrida for 14 October. There were firebrands like Folco de Baroncelli, a rising star of the Félibrige and grandson of the Comte de Chazelles-Lussac, who predicted a violent uprising on behalf of regional liberties. On the front page of the Provençallanguage journal Aioli, he proclaimed that the ruling would set Occitania ablaze: ‘‘The first spark, that small spark that will light the great fire: do you think it has already been struck?

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