Download Daughters of Eve: A Cultural History of French Theater Women by Lenard R. Berlanstein PDF

By Lenard R. Berlanstein

Well-known and seductive, girl degree performers haunted French public existence within the century earlier than and after the Revolution. This pathbreaking examine delineates the precise position of actresses, dancers, and singers in the French erotic and political imaginations. From the instant they turned an unofficial caste of mistresses to France's elite through the reign of Louis XIV, their snapshot fluctuated among emasculating males and delighting them. Drawing upon newspaper bills, society columns, theater feedback, govt reviews, autobiographies, public rituals, and an incredible corpus of fiction, Lenard Berlanstein argues that the general public snapshot of actresses was once formed by way of the political weather and ruling ideology; hence they have been deified in a single period and damned within the subsequent. Tolerated whilst civil society functioned and demonized whilst it faltered, they eventually handed from notoriety to superstar with the stabilization of parliamentary existence after 1880. in simple terms then may well woman fanatics respect them brazenly, and will the kingdom formally realize their contributions to nationwide lifestyles. Daughters of Eve is a provocative examine how a tradition creates social perceptions and reshuffles collective identities in accordance with political switch.

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Additional resources for Daughters of Eve: A Cultural History of French Theater Women from the Old Regime to the Fin de Siècle

Sample text

Enterprising writer-journalists, like Nestor Roqueplan, Aurélien Scholl, and Arsène Houssaye, placed themselves among the “kings of the Boulevard” and contributed mightily to the publicizing of elegance in the second half of the nineteenth century. They did so by combining the qualities of sybarite, man of letters, impressario, and prince charming. They developed the model of the writer in white gloves. 35 Much of the intertwining of Boulevard and theater was a matter of the growing importance of the press in representing opinion and commercializing elegance.

71 A second worthwhile measure was to keep one’s name before the public. Though the modalities of celebrity evolved across the century, the public’s curiosity about performers’ private lives was a constant. Patrons would come to see even a miserable play to watch a performer who captured their interest. The third guideline for a performer was to do whatever she could to procure the role that might give her a breakthrough. Nothing was so important to a beginner than to find that special part that would resonate with the public.

Significantly, the stagnating revenues occurred during an era of rising prosperity for the laboring population. 44 Yet these potential patrons did not spend that income on stage plays. The tastes that they had developed led them to other commercial spectacles. Early mass culture, which made everyday life into spectacle, emerged in Paris during the 1880s. Forms of diversion that featured everyday life or current events took off just as theater attendance stagnated. Panoramas, for example, had existed for most of the century, but an “o-rama craze” arose after 1880.

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