Paris: City of Light

Memoires in 1773


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




Thanks to the printing press, the personal scandals of the upper-class were revealed to a larger audience. Even if the majority of peasants were illiterate, the act of printing made the accounts public. Now 'public' is a powerful word, because it implies that the general population has a right to know and a need to know. As Rousseau pointed out, humans only want what they are taught to want (Rousseau, 56). For the lower-class, these memoires introduced and supported égalité and liberté, educating them in a way that provoked a spirit of revolution.

Image 2.3 Examples of memoires and pamphlets

Social inequality in France led to discontentment and a general desire for reform. Like all metropolitan capitals, Paris best embodied this stark distinction between classes, as a concentrated center of both poverty and wealth and nobility. The differences in lifestyle became increasingly visible through the publication and circulation of memoires, which depicted the legal or social scandals of the upper-class.