Altered book, “La France, le peuple qui s’est révolté,” by Kathleen Ginty

A Revolution in Fiction, one of my French courses this past year, studied the major events of the French Revolution. In this course, I found that I had a lot of difficulty remembering the order of events as well as the important dates. So I decided to use my altered book creative final project as a tool to help me improve my understanding of the French Revolution chronology. After the extremely gratifying completion of this work of art, I did indeed have a much better grasp on at least the chronological component of the French Revolution.

I was very fortunate to have found a book, written by Shel Silverstein, whose illustrations and plot corresponded surprisingly well with the history of the Revolution. In flipping through the pages, it was remarkable how closely some of the images were linked to those of the Revolution. Even the original title of the book, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, was easily transformed into a more pertinent La France, le peuple qui s’est révolté. In the original storyline, Lafcadio the lion has a suit made out of marshmallows, resembling an image of le corps politique; the hunters wear red caps, similar to les bonnets rouges of the revolutionaries; Lafcadio learns to shoot a gun between his legs, paralleling the image of women straddling canons in la marche des femmes; Lafcadio even takes a bath in a bathtub very similar to the one displayed in the portrait of the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat. I was able to work with many of these original illustrations, often having to simply cut and paste entire pages to place them in the correct chronological order.

In all, I portrayed around a dozen of what I considered to be the most notable events in the chronology of the French Revolution, including the Tennis Court Oath, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the writing of “La Marseillaise,” and the executions of key players such as Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Madame Roland. My mediums of choice were construction paper and markers, adding printed images and pertinent citations to each page. My color scheme did not stray far from the tricolor French flag with the patriotic hues of blue and red. Finally, my style throughout the project is very neat and clear, which may be interpreted as my feeble attempt to find order in the chaos that was the French Revolution.
Kathleen Ginty, University of Notre Dame, B.A. 2012

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