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War, Memory, and the Politics of HumorThe Canard Enchaine  and World War I$
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Allen Douglas

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520228764

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520228764.001.0001

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War, Lies, and Newsprint

(p.1) Introduction
War, Memory, and the Politics of Humor

Allen Douglas

University of California Press

This introductory chapter discusses the Canard Enchaîné, a French periodical that skillfully used multiple levels of irony and combined it with slang. The Canard has tirelessly cut through the conformities of French society and politics for over eighty years, and was established in 1915 to serve as a challenge to the patriotic gore characteristic of First World War journalism. The discussion notes that the Canard lived entirely from newsstand and subscription sales, and that it did not take any advertisements, appeal to its followers to support it via donation campaigns, nor accept any subsidies. This satirical weekly has shown that a newspaper can live—and thrive—because of, and not despite, its independence. As such, the Canard is viewed as one of the enduring objects of twentieth-century French culture. The chapter also views the Canard's essence, its intimate connections to the war experience, its principal weapon against censorship, and the reasons for its unique personality. A discussion of the biography and history of the weekly and how it was able to survive the war and gain the devotion of many readers is included.

Keywords:   Canard Enchaîné, levels of irony, First World War, journalism, independence, French culture, war experience, censorship

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