A Shield of Paris is built around the theme of power and love, and the transformation of the former into the latter. Mirroring this is the transformations of voice and style, from irony to elegy. The first story is ironic and obtuse, the last story becomes unmediated in emotion and memory. Between them, the volume is rife with historical material that brings these themes well beyond the personal. Voices wildly vary, from the oracular to the street, from austere to burlesque.