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British Writers and Paris 1830–1875$
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Elisabeth Jay

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199655243

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655243.001.0001

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Fictional subgenres

Fictional subgenres

(p.253) 13 Fictional subgenres
British Writers and Paris 1830–1875

Elisabeth Jay

Oxford University Press

Drawing on both French and English fictional models, this chapter categorizes the comparatively narrow palette of subgenres used by British writers for portraying Paris. Paris’s dirigiste regime was so different from the experience of England’s major cities that it resisted both social realism and the roman à thèse For comparing national traits or gender differences, or offering a guidebook in fictional guise, Germaine de Staël’s Corinne provided the obvious model. Parisian glamour was an obvious resource for the silver-fork school of fiction, while Vidocq’s Memoirs helped British writers express their anxieties in crime fiction. The abrupt erasure of an older Paris by Haussmanization may account for a renewed interest in retrospective or historical novels, chief among which was Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.

Keywords:   Corinne, crime, Dickens, dirigisme, guidebook, Haussmann, historical fiction, silver-fork, A Tale of Two Cities, Vidocq

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