Cent manières d'être ridicule by Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly

By Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly

"Il y a cent manières d'être ridicule - l'une après l'autre ou toute à l. a. fois" ! Barbey d'Aurevilly

« Barbey, vous aviez tout prévu, l. a. société du comique, les torchons humans, le règne du buzz, les journaux gratuits, l’agonie de l. a. presse écrite et celle de l. a. vie privée. »
Jean-Marc Parisis

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The problem of variable believability was even exploited in the “re-introduction” in the first number of the new, 1916, series. After repeating some of the same points from the September 1915 article, the editors went on to claim: The Canard Enchaîné is also an honest newspaper. It will take, therefore, the elementary precaution of warning its readers of the degree of belief that they should accord to the items that will come under their eyes. 4 Needless to say, the paper gave no such indications.

But how antimilitarist was the paper during the war? The collection for 1915 through 1918 shows an apparent variety of positions on the war. But interpreting these positions demands coming to terms with the weekly’s distinctive discourse and, within this discourse, with its use of irony. Perhaps most interesting in the irony of the Canard’s introduction is its inherent instability. The paper says that it will provide only false information. Read this declaration literally and we can deduce the opposite of whatever it prints.

In such a situation, no government, no matter how imperialist, would have gone to war. And the phenomenon was not limited to Germany, the author went on. 39 The notion that countries go to war because those who make the decisions do not have to do the fighting became a leitmotif for the Canard after World War I. Here it is served up with a sauce that reflects the ideological ambidexterity of so much of the weekly’s wartime prose. If the series began with a patriotically nasty wish for Germany and continued with a reference to the war’s being started by an imperialist country (which would still be Germany), it ended by suggesting that the plague of war could be unleashed by any country.

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