Kristin Ross’s new book on the Paris Commune extends her earlier work on revolution in the French capital, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune and May ’68 and Its Afterlives, through an exploration of “communal luxury” in the city of light. The history of the Commune is well known. This popular revolutionary moment, which continues to haunt the leftist imagination in the twenty-first century, lasted from March 18 to May 28, 1871. The Commune itself emerged from the infamous Prussian siege of Paris, which eventually led to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, and the National Guard’s stubborn resistance to both the Prussians, who remained posted in France until after the end of the Commune, and eventually the French government and regular army that sought to retake the city. The story of the Commune begins when the temporary...

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