History of Violence

A young man returns home from the laundromat and remakes his bed, then douses the clean sheets with air freshener, deodorant, aftershave, and cologne. He scrubs his floors, the slats of his blinds, the knobs of the doors. He wipes the bathroom mirror, in which his rapist admired his own reflection. 

Édouard Louis’s History of Violence is based on what happened the night—Christmas Eve, 2012—the author met a man in the street, and let the man inside his Paris apartment.

Édouard sits behind a door, quiet, unheard. He listens as his sister relays to her husband what happened. He silently corrects the record when he disagrees with her retelling. 

His friends convince him to report the assault, then he tries to retract the charges. He bristles at the racist language the police use when discussing his attacker. And he believes prison doesn’t stanch violence—it breeds more. PLEASE READ

History of Violence by Édouard Louis, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux