The Siege of Berlin, by Alphonse Daudet


The Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, along with the ensuing siege of Paris and the horrors of the Commune, exert a certain gloomy fascination upon those of us interested in French history, and nowhere is the memory of those tragic events more vividly captured than in the literature of the time. Émile Zola’s La débâcle gives probably the most complete and wrenching account of the overall experience, but when it comes to short fiction – alongside Maupassant, of course – the works of Alphonse Daudet, particularly the tales in his 1873 collection Contes du lundi, render what certainly feels like a faithful account of what it must have been like to witness the violent fall and dissolution of the Second Empire. Tonight’s story tells a particularly poignant tale, with premonitions of Jacob the Liar and Goodbye Lenin.

The Siege of Berlin, by Alphonse Daudet {19:56}

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