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Aaron Freundschuh is Assistant Professor of History at Queens College, City University of New York.

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Aaron Freundschuh explores the events of "L'affair Pranzini". Madame de Montilla, real name Marie Regnault, a well known and sought after courtesan is found brutally murdered, along with her housekeeper and the housekeeper's young daughter; there have been other unsolved murders of courtesans in recent times. After a number of (probably) false leads, suspicion falls on Enrico Pranzini, a young, handsome Italian / Egyptian, living off his charms.

Freundshuh explores the "demimonde" of late nineteenth century Paris, with its strict categorisation of courtesans, prostitutes (which Marie Ragnault certainly was not) and the newly emerging tribe of "gigolos" and, a now forgotten term, "gigolettes". He also explores the politics and changing social mores of the time, the moral panic around immigrants from the Empire (such as Pranzini) disrupting social norms, the amateurism of policing at the time, and the emerging profession of investigative journalism.

Pranzini, of course, never stood a chance. Arrested and convicted on what today would be considered very flimsy evidence. Undoubtedly his suave, sophisticated manner - and refusal, on grounds of chivalry, to reveal the identity of the lady with whom he spent the night of Ragnault's murder - generated hostility from press, public and the judiciary. There is no real reason to assume he was the culprit

The book is diligently researched, and yet there are a couple of omissions which are a little irritating. For example, Pranzini, we are told, was convicted on two of the three murder counts. This makes no sense; which murder was he not guilty of? On what basis can he be not guilty of? Who was assumed to be guilty?

Omissions like this rankle somewhat, but otherwise the book is highly recommended
… (lisätietoja)
 
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Opinionated | 1 muu arvostelu | May 8, 2023 |
This exercise in micro-history uses the 1887 murder of Madame de Montille (a successful professional sex-worker), and several members of her household, as a point of entry into examining politics, the police, and the rise of professional journalism in the France of the day. Much of this story actually involves Enrico Pranzini (the "gigolo" of the title), a somewhat sketchy individual who was just suspicious enough that his conviction and execution was railroaded through the French court system on the basis of very thin evidence, with his main crime being an outsider (an Egyptian of Italian descent) who could simply blend into French urban society. The most useful part of this book is probably the examination of the journalist Georges Grison, who became a bulldog in the service of French right-wing politics, having used the crime "beat" as a launching point for his career.… (lisätietoja)
½
 
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Shrike58 | 1 muu arvostelu | Feb 23, 2023 |

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