Paris: City of Light

Late 1700 Reading Practices


Parisian Salons
 ~Salons of   Enlightenment
 ~Madame de   Stäel         
~Salons of the   Restoration
 ~The Salons of   Victor Hugo

Influence of Printed Materials
 ~Pre-Revolutionary   Timeline
 ~Post-Revolutionary   Timeline


Defining the Parisians
 ~Parisians Viewed   by Foreigners
 ~Parisians   Viewed by   Themselves
 ~Paris Fashion




Image 2.6 La Lecture du Soir, engraving for second volume of Le Vie de mon pere by Restif de la Bretonne, 1779, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris (Chartier, 227).

This image clearly shows a family of peasants: the house is sparsely furnished, they are dressed for the working-class, and there are children playing on the ground. They have gathered with their servants for a daily reading from the father. Although many of the people in the picture are probably illiterate, they can participate in learning from the book since it is a community event. This also means that not each person needs to have money to buy and own the book. Finally, the active posture of the adults indicates that the reading is fairly serious and discussion oriented. The engraving is meant to represent Bretonne's family practice of reading the Bible each evening, but it shows how reading transformed into a public, intellectual activity including more people than just the upper-class.