The Fountain in the Forest and the French Republican Calendar

Feb 22 2018 19:00 - 20:30

Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DY London

Tony White’s latest novel The Fountain in the Forest views the end of the UK Miners’ Strike through the lens of the French Revolutionary Caledar. Join us for readings and discussion with Tony White and Dr Sanja Perovic from the Department of French, King’s College London.

The Fountain in the Forest (Faber and Faber) is a thriller that explores the legacy of a decisive period in recent British history, the ninety days between the end of the UK Miners’ Strike on 3 March and the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ on 1 June 1985.

When a brutally murdered man is found hanging in a Covent Garden theatre, Detective Sergeant Rex King becomes obsessed with the case. Who is this anonymous corpse, and why has he been ritually mutilated? But as Rex explores the crime scene further, the mystery deepens, and he finds himself confronting his own secret history instead. Who, more importantly, is Rex King? Shifting between Holborn Police Station, an abandoned village in rural 1980s France, and the Battle of the Beanfield at Stonehenge, The Fountain in the Forest transforms the traditional crime narrative into something dizzyingly unique.

White’s new novel also draws on research undertaken during his residency at King’s, and looks at the events of 1985 through the lens of the French Revolutionary Calendar. Funded by Creativeworks, Tony was Creative Entrepreneur in Residence in the Department of French at King’s College London, where he worked with Dr Sanja Perovic on a project exploring the work of British artist Stuart Brisley.

One of the most unusual decisions of the leaders of the French Revolution was to abandon customarily-accepted ways of calculating date and time to create a Revolutionary calendar. Perovic’s study traces the course of the Revolutionary Calendar, from its cultural origins to its decline and fall. Tracing the parallel stories of the calendar and the literary genius of its creator, Sylvain Maréchal, from the Enlightenment to the Napoleonic era, Sanja Perovic reconsiders the status of the French Revolution as the purported ‘origin’ of modernity, the modern experience of time, and the relationship between the imagination and political action.

Reviews of Sanja Perovic

‘The Calendar in Revolutionary France is an exhilarating book that invites one to think about the calendar and its history in ways that move between different time scales and that complicate the terms through which we imagine historical periodization altogether.’ - Deborah Elise White, Nineteenth-Century French Studies

Reviews of Tony White

‘Rejecting familiar influences of the past 20 years, White joins a handful of contemporary writers who are proving that the novel has never been more alive. He is a serious, engaging voice of the modern city.’ - Michael Moorcock,Guardian

‘White is our nimblest political novelist … With Tony White’s fiction there is always an engaging lightness of touch, a deft ability to wind out stories that carry a freight-load of edgy material with a beguiling ease.’ 3am Magazine

About the Authors

Sanja Perovic is Senior Lecturer in French at King’s College London and co-director of the Centre for Enlightenment Studies at King’s. Recent publications include The Calendar in Revolutionary France: Perceptions of Time in Literature, Culture, and Politics (Cambridge: CUP, 2012) and the edited volume Sacred and Secular Agency in Early Modern France: Fragments of Religion (London: Continuum, 2011). She has also published more widely on the aesthetics and politics of time, from the early modern period to the present.

Tony White’s latest novel is The Fountain in the Forest. He is the author of five previous novels including Foxy-T and Shackleton’s Man Goes South, and the non-fiction work Another Fool in the Balkans, as well as novellas and numerous short stories published in journals, exhibition catalogues, and anthologies. White was creative entrepreneur in residence in the French department of King’s College London, and has been writer in residence at London’s Science Museum and the UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies. He recently collaborated with artists Blast Theory on the libraries live-streaming project A Place Free Of Judgement, and currently chairs the board of London’s award-winning arts radio station Resonance 104.4fm.

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