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Changing France

Literature and Material Culture in the Second Empire

Anne Green

Changing France

A fresh insight into the rich possibilities of expression opened up to French Second Empire writers through apparently trivial aspects of modern material life.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781783080700
December 2013 | 208 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6
PRICE:  £25.00  /  $40.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

‘This book reveals how certain specific features of literary texts, many already familiar to the reader, shed their particularity or their peculiarity and gain a new general, illustrative significance in the light of the various trends that were part of the culture of the age… [T]he book is greatly to be recommended and a pleasure to read.’ —David Baguley, ‘French Studies’

‘This lively, lucid, and meticulously researched book will be a rich resource for those wishing to know more of the burgeoning material culture of Second Empire France. It breaks new ground both in its exploration of how that culture, even at its most apparently trivial, reflected larger social and political anxieties; and in its compelling account of how the literature of the period responded to and engaged with it.’ —Professor Heather Glen, University of Cambridge

‘A brilliant account of how literature responded to a materially changing world in Second Empire France. For laptops, spaceships, and climate change, read cameras, trains, and urban redevelopment. Meticulously researched, shrewdly argued, and beautifully written, this book offers important new perspectives on the relationship between culture and our lived environment.’ —Professor Roger Pearson, University of Oxford

The French Second Empire (1852-70) was a time of exceptionally rapid social, industrial and technological change. Guidebooks and manuals were produced in large numbers to help readers negotiate new cultural phenomena, and their concerns – including image-making, diet, stress, lack of time, and the frustrations of public transport – betray contemporary political tensions and social anxieties alongside the practical advice offered. French literature also underwent fundamental changes during this period, as writers such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Gautier, Hugo and Zola embraced ‘modernity’ and incorporated new technologies, fashions and inventions into their work. Focusing on cultural areas such as exhibitions, transport, food, dress and photography, ‘Changing France’ shows how apparently trivial aspects of modern life provided Second Empire writers with a versatile means of thinking about deeper issues. This volume brings literature and material culture together to reveal how writing itself changed as writers recognised the extraordinarily rich possibilities of expression opened up to them by the changing material world.

Readership: This book is aimed at students and scholars of nineteenth-century French literature, cultural historians and nineteenth-century specialists.

Author Information

Anne Green is Professor of French at King’s College London, UK.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. Exhibitions; 3. Transport; 4. Food; 5. Photography; 6. Costume; 7. Ruins; 8. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

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