FT.com / Arts - Tales from New Orleans:
"Katrina, which left more than 1m in the Gulf region displaced and 70 per cent of homes in New Orleans damaged, required an unprecedented urban recovery project in the US. For this reason, historians have compared it to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which left 85 per cent of the Portuguese capital in ruins. The aftermath of Katrina is reminiscent of the 18th-century earthquake in other ways. After 1755, contemporary philosophers and writers sought to respond to and make sense of the disaster. Rousseau called for mankind to return to a more natural way of living – for people to take care of the small patch of earth over which they had control; as did Voltaire, if more satirically, in Candide.
Similarly, in the past five years, Hurricane Katrina has spawned an array of artistic responses – from home-grown community storytelling programmes to blockbuster films. Meanwhile, so-called “Katrina Literature” has become its own genre – so popular that the “Katrina memoir” has become almost a cliché.
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