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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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Stereotype and prejudice

Stereotype and prejudice

(p.276) 14 Stereotype and prejudice
British Writers and Paris 1830–1875

Elisabeth Jay

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the deep-seated prejudices about Paris manifested in fiction. The structures encouraging national comparisons are explored, followed by an analysis of fictional stereotypes. Stories of vulnerable Protestant schoolgirls emphasized Britain’s fears of Paris’s invasive power, while the city’s double evils of sensuality and revolution were also gendered female, as maenads or seductresses. The dissolute life to which Paris exposed young Englishmen was encapsulated in left-bank Bohemian life, a trope derived from Henry Murger’s account of impoverished artists, which itself became subject to further Anglophone revisions. The extent to which the Paris represented by British writers was a literary confection, heavily influenced by popular literature, is stressed in an epilogue summing up the way in which this book’s approach to Paris has further nuanced the concepts ‘Victorian’ and ‘urban’.

Keywords:   Bohemian, gender, Murger, prejudice, schoolgirls, seductresses, stereotype, trope, urban, Victorian

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