Escape from the Bastille

Escape from the Bastille : Life and Legend of Latude

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This is the story of the greatest escape artist in early modern France. The exploits of the legendary Latude, also known as Jean Danry, are brought to life by Claude Quetel, and shown to be not quite as noble as the legends make out. During his thirty-five years of imprisonment for inventing a plot against Madame de Pompadour, Latude escaped from the prison at Vincennes twice, in 1750 and 1765, and from the Bastille in 1756. Drawing on archives and letters, Quetel recreates Latude's world both from our hero's point of view and from the standpoint of the critical historian. Quetel describes the prisons and institutions of the Ancien Regime which contained Latude temporarily. He highlights the social and physical differences between the conditions of certain privileged prisoners in the Bastille and the squalor inflicted upon the outcasts - the elderly, abandoned children, the ill and the insane - who were heaped like rubbish into the prison at Bicetre. Latude himself emerges from this extraordinary story not as the victim of notorious royal despotism, but rather as a man entranced by his own mythology, whose egomania led ultimately to his downfall.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 152 x 229mm | 451g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • French
  • 0745605966
  • 9780745605968

Table of contents

The booby trap parcel; at the Bastille; escape from Vincennes; prisoner of the Bastille; the great escape; a difficult prisoner; the year of the Marquise de Pompadour died; the third escape; the keep of Vincennes; at Charenton with the insane; forty days; hell at Bicetre; Madame Legros; Viscount de Latude, pensioner of the King; citizen Latude, victim of despotism; the final years. Appendices: 65th letter to Mr. de Sartine; beginning of despotism unveiled or memoirs of Henri Masers de Latude; Latude or thirty years of captivity, historical melodrama; Latude, hero of a serial.
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