1. Plans to commemorate the storming of the Bastille in 1793 were doomed when news of a shocking murder committed on July 13, 1793 swept through Paris and prompted a massive public outpouring of grief the next day. Who was murdered?
a. the Count de Mirabeau, a popular monarchist
b. Jacques Hébert, the salty « Father Duchêne » of newspaper fame
c. the Duke d’Orléans, otherwise known as Philippe-Égalité (famous for voting the execution of his own cousin, Louis XVI)
d. Jean-Paul Marat, left-wing journalist and deputy
2. To be a sans-culotte (literally “without-breeches”) during the Revolution meant to be:
a. a man who refuses to wear underwear
b. a woman who only wears skirts
c. a militant populist
d. a hermaphrodite
3. Although this man is widely held responsible for the brutality of the Terror, he opposed the de-Christianization of France, detested atheism, and spoke eloquently on behalf of “any consoling doctrine that elevates the soul.” His name?
a. Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
b. Charles Henri Sanson, the executioner
c. Maximilien Robespierre, the “Incorruptible”
d. Joseph Fouché, the “Butcher of Lyon”
4. What author rewrote the Women’s March to Versailles of October 1789 into a cartoonish encounter between a knitting-needle wielding army of girls and a scarecrow king?
a. L. Frank Baum, in The Marvelous Land of Oz
b. T.S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
c. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in Herland
d. Lewis Carroll, in Alice in Wonderland
5. In the drawing by Jacques-Louis David of “Marie-Antoinette on the Way to the Guillotine” (1793), the Queen looks much older than her 37 years. Her hair was prematurely grey, and she was robbed of what accessories:
a. her false teeth
b. her wig
c. her corset
d. all three
6. In the biographies and “black legends” published after the death of Robespierre, authors consistently emphasized his peculiar appearance, and took pains to describe:
a. the way he habitually clenched up his hands and grimaced spasmodically
b. his pale and sickly complexion
c. his poor skills as an orator
d. all three
7. The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, dates from what year ?
8. What designer marketed a highly controversial advertising campaign for its “Napoleonic” line that featured homicidal models killing each other under the gaze of a Marie-Antoinette look-alike?
a. Christian Dior
b. Dolce & Gabanna
d. Jean Paul Gautier
9. What modern-day artist generated world-wide fame by copying Jacques-Louis David’s portrait of The Death of Marat (1793), using garbage instead of oil paints?
a. Vik Muniz
b. Justin Gignac
c. Andy Warhol
d. Cindy Sherman
10. What French presidential candidate made “storming the Bastille” a central focus of his far-Left agenda in spring 2012?
a. François Hollande
b. Nicolas Sarkozy
c. Dominique Strauss-Kahn
d. Jean-Luc Mélenchon
1. d. Jean-Paul Marat. Marat’s murder by Charlotte Corday was made into a beautiful portrait, Marat assassinated, by Jacques-Louis David and remains one of the most recognizable symbols of the revolutionary legacy.
2. c. a militant populist
3. c. Maximilien Robespierre.
4 a. L. Frank Baum followed up the smash hit, The Wizard of Oz (1900) with a sequel featuring General Jinjur and an Army of Revolt in The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904). The similarities between characters of October 1789, Jinjur, and the “stuffed monarch” are too close to be accidental, especially since Baum’s mother-in-law was a famous suffragist and he himself wrote extensively in support of women’s rights.
5. d. All three. However, she reportedly met her end with great composure, even apologizing to the executioner for accidentally stepping on his foot.
6. d. All three. Robespierre’s weird appearance at morn, and his abrupt mood swings suggest that he may be the inspiration for other great villains, such as Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde and Dorian Gray.
7. c. 1792. The song, originally titled “Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin” (“War Song for the Army of the Rhine”) was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792. It has been featured in many films, notably Casablanca, as a symbol of French national pride.
8. b. The Hot Baroque line promoted by Dolce & Gabanna in 2006-07 incurred the wrath of the British publishing industry and an official censure.
9. a. The Brazilian-born New Yorker Vik Muniz’s garbage portrait, Marat (Sebastião) (2008), was featured in the award-winning documentary by Lucy Walker, Waste Land (2010).
10. d. The left-wing Front de Gauche sponsored a hugely popular demonstration in honor of Mélenchon on March 18, 2012 with the slogan, “Reprenons la Bastille!” (Let’s take back the Bastille!). He did not win, but the populist outrage he generated may have paved the way for Socialist François Hollande’s landslide on May 6, 2012.
Read more about these stories in The Frankenstein of 1790 and Other Lost Chapters from Revolutionary France, forthcoming this fall via the University of Chicago Press.