Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France

Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France

Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France

Marianne in the Market: Envisioning Consumer Society in Fin-de-Siècle France

Synopsis

""Marianne in the Market is an original analysis of the relationship among consumerism, republicanism, and gender at the turn of the century. Tiersten persuasively argues that French cultural and commercial experts resolved the tension between republican civic-mindedness and the liberal free market by constructing the chic bourgeois woman. In showing how 'marketplace modernism, ' the new bourgeois aesthetic of everyday originality, came to replace the old aesthetic of aristocratic taste, this book suggests a new way of thinking about consumerism that invites a comparative perspective."--Whitney Walton, author of "France at the Crystal Palace: Bourgeois Taste and Artisan Manufacture in the Nineteenth Century

"Lisa Tiersten has deftly tracked the bourgeois housewives of fin-de-siecle France in their new roles as spenders, taste-setters, and overloaded carriers of cultural values. "Marianne in the Market is a fine study, rich with insights, delivered in a beautiful prose package."--Joyce Appleby, author of "Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans

"A valuable and engaging account of the debate over consumption in turn-of-the-century France. The author convincingly portrays the ways in which tastemakers worked to redeem consumption as a social, political, and aesthetic contribution to the nation. In the process consumers--female consumers, too--come to participate in an internal civilizing mission. "--Bonnie Smith, author of "The Gender of History

Excerpt

Paris! What was Paris like? What a titanic name! She repeated it to herself softly, for the pleasure of hearing it; it resounded in her ears like the bell of a cathedral. … She bought herself a map of Paris; following the streets with her fingertip, she traveled all over the capital. She walked along the boulevards, stopping at every corner. … [S]he was interested in … the opening of every new shop. She knew the latest fashions, the addresses of the best tailors. … She studied the descriptions of furniture in the works of Eugène Sue … seeking the imaginary gratification of her desires. … In her longing she confused the pleasures of luxury with the joys of the heart, elegant customs with refined feelings.

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

If Madame Bovary had lived in Paris instead of Yonville, she would have led a profoundly different life. Stifled by bourgeois boredom and bad taste, Emma Bovary imagined herself flourishing in the French capital. “Walking along the boulevards, stopping at every corner, ” she would have been a flâneuse, luxuriating in the freedom to observe and admire the spectacle of modern Paris and to be observed and admired herself, like other Parisiennes of taste and sensibility. With her dreams of beautiful possessions and social recognition instantly gratified, moreover, she might never have embarked on ill-fated love affairs or plunged her husband into bankruptcy through her extravagance. If Madame Bovary's reveries indicted both the emotional stinginess and aesthetic insensibility of provincial bourgeois society, they did so by implicitly measuring that society against a mythic vision of Paris as the capital of chic.

Nineteenth-century Paris signified much more, however, than taste and refinement. Where Emma Bovary pictured a fantasy world of sophistication, her upright bourgeois family and neighbors saw a modern Babylon. From their perspective, Madame Bovary's quest for Parisian pleasure and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.