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Assistant Professor, Paris Ouest-Nanterre la Défense University
In a recent interview, George Wolinski (1934-2015), one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists killed in the Paris terrorist attacks on January 7, 2015, had claimed his magazine’s work was the legacy of L’Assiette au Beurre, an innovative satirical weekly published in France between 1901 and 1912.
Both stylistically and politically, the two periodicals, separated by more than a century, could also claim an affiliation with a long French tradition of dissent. Accordingly, although Charlie Hebdo is now known around the globe for its unmediated satire on religions, we should not overlook its position in the longer history of French anti-imperialism.
The 1881 laws on the freedom of the press had opened the golden age of French political caricature, paving the way for Samuel-Sigismond Schwarz to found L’Assiette au Beurre in 1901. The new illustrated weekly was, however, initially a failed commercial venture. [continue reading]