Crimes of Passion : Dramas of Private Life in Nineteenth-century France
Focusing on a series of notorious cases, the author shows how French society created and sustained a complex series of conventions and assumptions about crimes of passion: who committed such crimes, why they were committed and how the guilty should be punished. Guillais examines how society, and above all the legal, political and medical authorities tried to make sense of crimes of passion. Frequently such crimes were seen as part of the breakdown in the fabric of society after the events of the Commune, and the fear of this disintegration was fed by writers such as Zola, the popular press and the pronouncements of the Church. These attitudes emerge, the author argues, in the behaviour of the men and women involved in the cases. Their letters, suicide notes and courtroom confessions, which Guillais documents in detail, demonstrate an inexorable dramatization of the roles of lover, mistress and wronged husband. The adulteresses and murderers became simultaneously heroes and victims, blaming society for their crimes. And thus society itself, showing a mixture of condemnation and prurient fascination with these crimes, was put on trial.
- Hardback | 300 pages
- 107.9 x 171.4 x 25.4mm | 498.95g
- 27 Sep 1990
- Polity Press
- Oxford, United Kingdom
Table of contents
Part 1 Crime and the criminal: image and reality; the cry of rebellion; the path to crime. Part 2 Tales of men and women: the break; the world upside down. Part 3 Society's attitude towards crimes of passion: to kill for passion; the reality of the assize courts.