Books: Death Masque

CARNIVAL IN ROMANS

by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie

Braziller; 426 pages; $20

French Historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie managed a singular coup last year. His book Montaillou, a painstakingly detailed account of life in a small French town in the Pyrenees at the beginning of the 14th century, became a surprise bestseller. But then, Montaillou was a singular town. The curious beliefs, the robust lives and the sexual proclivities of its townspeople, revealed through the testimony in their subsequent heresy trials, afforded an intriguing peephole into another time.

In Carnival in Romans Le Roy...

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