The limited objections raised by members of the book trade to the press law at the time of the trial of Madame Bovary serve to highlight some fundamental characteristics and contradictions of liberalism in mid-nineteenth-century France. In general, liberalism in this time and place emphasized commercial freedom and property rights, at the expense of freedom of speech. In contrast to Anglo-American liberals, French liberals readily sacrificed this last freedom in the interest of "order," which was deemed necessary to promote the growth of commerce. As some of the most recent scholarship on the political culture of the Second Empire (and early- to mid-nineteenth-century France more generally) has shown, property, alongside education, was the main priority for liberals. It was only because property and education seemed to require it that freedom of the press eventually became important to French liberals and republicans. Intellectual freedom entered the political culture, for authors and publishers as well as statesmen, only through the back door of economic liberalism.
The Trial of Madame Bovary Revisited
Repatriating Folly in France in the Aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars
At the beginning of the Second Restoration, Paris was swept by a mania for roller coasters, which were dubbed montagnes russes after a Russian tradition of sledding on ice hills. Situating this phenomenon in the context of the military occupation of France following the defeat of Napoleon, this article analyzes one of the many plays featuring these “mountains,” Le Combat des montagnes (“The Battle of the Mountains”), and especially two of its main characters, La Folie (Folly) and Calicot (Calico Salesman). The “battle” over the roller coasters, it argues, was really a contest over how to redefine national identity around consumer culture rather than military glory. Through the lens of the montagnes russes, the article offers a new perspective on the early Restoration as an aftermath of war.