Les Arts de la Table: Nourriture et Classes Sociales dans la Littérature Française du Dix-Neuvième Siècle

by Lair, Anne V

Abstract (Summary)
Prior to 1789, only the members of the aristocracy had access to fine cuisine and that through chefs they privately employed. The French Revolution clearly had a substantial impact on many aspects of French society, but one of the most notable changes was the gastronomical revolution that took place at the beginning of the 19th century. Selected works by 19th-century French authors provide vivid examples of the results of this change in culinary habits and traditions. The first chapter of this dissertation examines how the upper classes lived and entertained, particularly through the private dinners they gave. In Honoré de Balzac’s La Peau de Chagrin, the banquet, a tradition that carries over from Antiquity is examined. These banquets were given by the upper classes included exceptional settings, extraordinary foods and wines, and activities. In the second chapter, one sees that members of the bourgeoisie used restaurants to entertain their mistresses or to conduct business. However, this social class did not have the savoir-faire nor the savoir-vivre to truly appreciate the pleasures of food. Examples from Gustave Flaubert's L’Education sentimentale illustrate how the bourgeoisie used restaurants. . The third chapter focuses on Le Ventre de Paris by Emile Zola, which illustrates the way the political regime can destroy the lower classes. The Halles de Baltard, which play an important role in Le Ventre de Paris, are a perfect example of Parisian architecture of at the time and illustrate the importance of food during the 19th century in France. Chapter four focuses on Zola's L'Assommoir, which provides many examples of the relationship of the working class to food. For example, the Parisian working class of the Second Empire often celebrated major life events with large quantities of food, of which they were severely deprived of during the Old Régime. These celebrations included many types of foods, which symbolized strength and wealth. In conclusion, unlike previous centuries where culinary pleasures had been reserved for upper classes, the 19th century-gastronomical revolution enabled members of all social classes to not only to have access to food but more importantly to find pleasure in food.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:nourriture classes sociales xixe siècle la peau de chagrin l education sentimentale le ventre paris assommoir pierre bourdieu michel certeau


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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