Public Opinion in Early France

Public Opinion in Early France

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In this book, Arlette Farge argues that there was a popular public sphere in 18th-century France. The 18th century was awash with rumour and talk; the words and opinions of ordinary people filled the streets of Paris. Drawing on chronicles, newspapers, memoirs, police reports and newsheets from the time, Farge shows that ordinary Parisians had definite opinions on what was happening in their city - visible, real, everyday events such as executions, price rises and revolts. Yet the political significance of these opinions was denied by a government which preferred to regard them as unsophisticated, impulsive, and inept. Farge argues that, while public opinion continued to be officially excluded from the political field and even denied an existence by those in high places, it became one of the main sources of fear to the monarchy, which tried to keep it under continual surveillance through a system of spies, inspectors and observers. It was amid this curious tension, she argues, that popular rumours arose, and even gained a life of their own. This book addresses a range of issues, including: the nature of public opinion; the relation between rulers and ruled; and the role of popular rumours. It should be of interest to students and researchers in the social and cultural history of early modern more

Product details

  • Hardback | 250 pages
  • 152 x 229mm
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • notes, index
  • 0745611427
  • 9780745611426

Table of contents

Part I: Journals, Newspapers and Policemen: Scenes from Street Life . 1. Words, Scorned and Persecuted. 2. Words Caught in Flight: Government, Information and Resistance. Part II: Speeches of Discontent: Forms and Motifs . 3. Mobility and Fragmentation. 4. Motifs. Part III: Speaking Against the King, or Words from the Bastille . 5. "Who is to Stop me Killing the King?". 6. "Your Worthy Subjects Deserve a King who Shall Surpass Them", or, the Constitution of Successive Figures of Royalty from 1744 to 1775. more