Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The French Generation of 1820

The French Generation of 1820

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The French Generation of 1820
    Book Description:

    Alan Spitzer approaches the history of the French Restoration by examining the experience of a particular age group born between 1792 and 1803: the generation of 1820. A predominantly male, middle-class, educated minority of this group was perceived as representing all that was most promising and specifically youthful in the period. Their response to the pressures of transition was expressed in the fractious behavior of the youth of the schools,'' and in voluntary associations, masonic lodges, conspiratorial cells, and influential journals, which depended on a dense network of personal relationships. Professor Spitzer portrays these connections in a set of sociograms using new techniques for the visual representation of social networks.

    Originally published in 1987.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5857-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: The Generation as a Social Network
    (pp. 3-34)

    The assumption that a cohort coming of age in the Restoration’s first decade did exist for history is one that has a long history. The generation has certainly existed for historians of French literature and Restoration France, who have celebrated a tight cluster of distinguished birthdates.¹ Henri Peyre discerned an eloquence in the “mere enumeration” of the names of the most brilliant generation to be seen in France in many years, citing such figures as Augustin Thierry (1795), Alfred de Vigny (1797), Adolphe Thiers (1797), Jules Michelet (1798), Auguste Comte (1798), A. A. Cournot (1801), Victor Hugo (1802), Pierre Leroux...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Youth as the Age of Dissent
    (pp. 35-70)

    On 10 July 1819, a delegation of students from the Paris Faculty of Law presented a petition to the Chamber of Deputies protesting the dismissal of a popular lecturer and the suspension of his course. The government’s measures were defended before the Chamber by Royer-Collard as president of the Commission of Public Instruction. In 1819, Royer-Collard’s Doctrinaire constitutionalism still indicated defense of, and service in, the monarchy according to the moderate royalist version of the Charte. In this case he would justify the prescription of strong medicine for fairly mild disorders by placing them in appropriately sinister perspective:

    You all...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Victor Cousin: The Professor as Guru
    (pp. 71-96)

    The repudiation of political for intellectual adventuring was not a departure from, but a continuation of, tendencies characteristic of thejeunessefrom the beginning of the Restoration. That first vibrant, confusing decade after Napoleon’s fall was marked by an intense intellectual ferment in which educated youth in and out of the schools groped toward a collective destiny defined in opposition to obsolete ideologies and informed by a sense of millennial potentialities. The thrilling intimation of vast intellectual opportunities and obligations had begun to germinate beneath the icy authoritarianism of the late Empire, at least among the fortunate few who were...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Globe: Flagship for a Generation
    (pp. 97-128)

    The educational politics of ultraroyalism, culminating in the purge of the University, reinforced the resolution of the Restorationjeunesseto cut its own path into the future. After 1822 that aspiration was most effectively expressed in the founding of the various periodicals controlled and edited by many of the same individuals who had traced out a complex network of personal affiliations in the schools, in informal associations, and in the secret societies. The erstwhile conspirators who assembled the staffs of theGlobeand theProducteurwere able to bring in talented coevals who had not necessarily shared their enthusiasm for...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Muse Française, the Literary Orbit of Victor Hugo, and the Generational Fission of the Romantics
    (pp. 129-144)

    The history of theMuse françaisewas over before that of theGlobebegan. Its editors claimed to speak for youth, although they were not as tightly clustered as the cohort of theGlobeand theProducteur. The journal’s brief career comprises a chapter in a story of generational conflict that began several years before its founding in the articulation of a royalist romanticism and culminated after its demise when Victor Hugo, the most brilliant and precocious paladin of the new aesthetic, passed with all his literary baggage into the camp of the opposition to the conservative cultural establishment.


  10. CHAPTER 6 The Producteur and the Search for a “New General Doctrine”
    (pp. 145-170)

    The process that brought romantic poets into the cultural coalition with liberal critics reflected the power of shared assumptions to imprint a generational unity on the surface conflicts of militantly independent intellectuals. Perhaps the greatest tension between the assertion of a completely autonomous ideology and the internalizing of common conceptions was manifested in the brief history of theProducteur, the first periodical publication of the self-designated heirs of Saint-Simon.

    The personal and intellectual background of the Saint-Simonian coterie was much closer to that of the founders of theGlobethan to the political inclinations or the personal ramifications of the...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Shared Assumptions and a Common Temper of Mind
    (pp. 171-205)

    My emphasis on the common assumptions that underlay the differences between theGlobeand theProducteurmight be construed as a preamble to W. M. Simon’s suggestive essay “The ‘Two Cultures’ in Nineteenth-Century France: Victor Cousin and Auguste Comte.” After describing the century-long opposition of the intellectual traditions that more or less derived from Cousin and Comte, Simon concludes, “Between them it was a ‘dialogue de sourds’; but later it turned into a general conversation because in fact there were not ‘two cultures,’ but one with many streams.”¹ My concern is not with the ultimate convergence of the streams but...

  12. CHAPTER 8 A Cohort of Lauréats de Concours
    (pp. 206-224)

    The cohort that discovered its identity in the first decade of the Restoration was, like the larger society, deeply marked by its experience of the immediate past and the transition from the imperial order. For those on the threshold of maturity, the experience of transition had been coincident with the process of socialization. I have argued that it was the experience of socialization in the public realm of school and society, rather than any transformation of child-rearing practices or family relationships, that reinforced the consciousness of a distinct generational identity. This interpretation will proceed from its apparent contradiction—that the...

  13. CHAPTER 9 An Excess of Educated Men?
    (pp. 225-258)

    The most powerful evocation of the spirit of the cohort that sought its future in the “ruins” of post-Napoleonic France is in works of fiction. Julien Sorel, determined to “expose himself to a thousand deaths rather than fail to achieve success”; De Musset’s pale, ardent, and neurotic generation, whose dreams of glory are answered with the admonition, “become priests”; and Balzac’s hungry young provincials competing in the Paris arena like fifty thousand spiders in a pot are all tortured by the discrepancy between boundless ambition and constricted opportunity. These representations have been condensed into the definition of themal du...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Lost Illusions: Class and Generation Reconsidered
    (pp. 259-266)

    In his brilliant essay on “Lost Illusions,” Georg Lukács quotes Balzac’s condemnation of the Bourbon regime for its frustration of the energies born of the Revolution and the Napoleonic era:

    Nothing is such a condemnation of the slavery to which the Restoration has condemned our youth. The young men who did not know what to do with their strength, have harnessed it not only to journalism, political conspiracies, and the arts, but to strange excesses as well. ... If they worked, they demanded power and pleasure; as artists, they desired treasure; as idlers, passionate excitement—be that as it may,...

  15. CHAPTER 11 A Conclusion and an Epilogue
    (pp. 267-282)

    I once taught in a survey course whose segments were labeled chronologically beginning with the traditional categories, the Ancient World, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Somehow the chairman’s imagination broke down at 1648, for from that point to circa 1954 the assigned category was The Age of Transition. And so it was. All ages are.

    The trauma of growing up in an age of transition was scarcely confined to our French cohort even in its own era. The most relevant comparison is probably with the roughly identical age group in the contemporary German youth, notably those who formed the...

  16. Appendix A. 183 Members of the “Generation of 1820,” as They Were Entered on a Two-Dimensional Matrix. (See appendix B)
    (pp. 283-286)
  17. Appendix B. A Sociogram of the Generational Network
    (pp. 287-298)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 299-326)
  19. Index
    (pp. 327-335)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 336-336)