British Writers and Paris: 1830-1875

British Writers and Paris: 1830-1875

by Elisabeth Jay


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"A wicked and detestable place, though wonderfully attractive." Charles Dickens's conflicted feelings about Paris typify the fascination and repulsion with which a host of mid-nineteenth-century British writers viewed their nearest foreign capital. Variously perceived as the showcase for sophisticated, cosmopolitan talent, the home of revolution, a stronghold of Roman Catholicism, and a shrine to irreligious hedonism, Paris was also a city where writers were respected and journalism flourished. This historically-grounded account of the ways in which Paris touched the careers and work of both major and minor Victorian writers considers their actual experiences of an urban environment, distinctively different from anything Britain offered, as well as the extent to which this became absorbed and expressed within the Victorian imaginary.

Casting a wide literary net, the first part of this book explores these writers' reaction to the swiftly changing politics and topography of Paris, before considering the nature of their social interactions with the Parisians, through networks provided by institutions such as the British Embassy and the salons. The second part of the book examines the significance of Paris for mid-nineteenth-century Anglophone journalists, paying particular attention to the ways in which the young Thackeray's exposure to Parisian print culture shaped him as both writer and artist. The final part focuses on fictional representations of Paris, revealing the frequency with which they relied upon previous literary sources, and how the surprisingly narrow palette of subgenres, structures, and characters they employed contributed to the characteristic, and sometimes contradictory, prejudices of a swiftly-growing British readership.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199655243
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/28/2016
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Elisabeth Jay was born in London and educated at Talbot Heath School, Bournemouth, and St. Anne's College, Oxford. She has lived and worked mainly in Oxford, with the occasional period researching and/or teaching, in the USA and France. Her research publications have pursued two, occasionally intersecting, major pathways: work on a number of Victorian women writers and the cross-disciplinary study of nineteenth-century literature and theology and scholarly editions of Victorian works in a variety of genres. Since September 2011 she is Professor Emerita at Oxford Brookes University.

Table of Contents

Part One: Finding one's bearings in mid-nineteenth-century Paris
1. Regime change on the streets of Paris
2. British eyewitness accounts of regime change
3. Regime change as viewed from English shores
4. Topographical
5. Sensational Paris
6. Socializing in Paris
7. The Salons
Part Two: Anglophone journalism in Paris
8. Press conditions
9. Who were "the Paris correspondents?"
10. The working life of the Paris correspondent
11. Thackeray's debt to the print world of Paris
Part Three: The fictional formatting of Paris
12. The democratization of British fiction
13. Fictional subgenres
14. Stereotype and prejudice

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