Paris ou le livre des cent-et-un (englisch)#


  1. Martina Lauster
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Paris, ou le livre des Cent-et-un #

(Paris, or the Book of the One Hundred and One), a serial (1831-34) in the tradition of the Parisian ‘tableaux’ which sketch out the social topography, the inhabitants and the manners of the metropolis in an amusing, often critical and satirical fashion through a variety of individual, snapshot observations. The serial's title illustration alludes to the tradition of moralist depiction..

General Remarks#

The genre of city portraits of Paris was created with Sébastien Mercier’s "Tableau de Paris" (1782-88). Although closely related to the moralist literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for example, La Bruyère’s "Les Caractères" (1688), and the depiction of mores in the picaresque novel, for example, Lesage’s "Le Diable boiteux" (1707), the "Tableau de Paris" concerns itself with a more profound interpretation which dispenses with the moral optic. The reality of the metropolis in all its manifestations, which had hitherto scarcely been noticed or been held worthy of literary attention, is now brought into view. As Karlheinz Stierle has shown (Baudelaires "Tableaux Parisiens", pp. 286-288), the designation ‘tableau’ applies equally to a painting and a dramatic scene frozen for a moment; both genres are translated into the apparently artless prose of the literary ‘tableau’. The tendency to visualise things and to bring them to the reader’s attention as ‘scenes’ is thus specific to modern descriptions of city life, which in turn can be characterised as an attempt to capture and interpret all the many facets of the urban visual world. City tableaux apply the physiognomic mode popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to the face of the metropolis, thus yielding, in the words of Stierle, "a physiognomy of the now" ("Physiognomie der Jetzt-Zeit"; Mythos von Paris, p. 115).

The „Livre des Cent-et-un“ in its contemporary context#

While Mercier’s "Tableau de Paris" was the effort of one individual to assemble an entire portrait of metropolitan life from a multiplicity of observations, a new development emerged from about 1830. A Parisian world that had become considerably more complex both politically and socially, compared to the late eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth century, required a multi-perspectival portrait, something no one individual could furnish. In the case of Mercier, his "Tableau" swelled up into an ever-larger, gigantic opus. The "Livre des Cent-et-un" was the first portrait of the city of Paris to appear as a collective serial. It was meant to be a lifeline for the publisher Ladvocat whose publishing house, not untypical of the times around 1830, was facing ruin. This was indicative of the perilous transition in the book trade to the requirements of modern mass production. Over one hundred contributors came together - hence the curious title, ‘The Book of the One Hundred and One’ - to launch a lucrative publishing project that plugged the gap in the market between books and journals.

The opening contribution by the journalist Jules Janin makes explicit reference to Mercier’s "Tableau de Paris" and to Lesage’s depiction of mores in his "Diable boiteux". In order to do justice to the sweeping changes in mores since the eighteenth century, it is no longer possible, according to Janin, to strive for the uniformity of a single-authored ‘tableau’, as was the case with Mercier. What, rather, was required was a picture assembled from a huge variety of individual pieces, a "peinture multiple" drawn from hundreds of contributions with different perspectives. Janin also maintains that it is down to the changes in mores that the art of deciphering the physiognomy of the city is widely practised in the Paris of the 1830s. It is, he maintains, no longer the penetrating observation of an inspired individual that is needed to paint a precise picture of the contemporary city; today, every Parisian, man or woman, is a Lesage - or, to be more exact, a "diable boiteux", a reincarnation of the limping devil Asmodeus who in Lesage’s novel removes the city’s roofs to reveal the mores of the day. The "Livre des Cent-et-un" was originally meant to appear under the title "Le Diable boiteux" as a nod to Lesage. Janin’s programmatic essay entitled "Asmodée", and the title vignette, which shows a little devil with a crutch, also point to this. (See also "Die Zeitgenossen", Globalkommentar: Sittengeschichte als moderne Moralistik)

The "Livre des Cent-et-un" appeared from 1831 until 1834 in parts that were collected into fifteen volumes, each of about 350 pages. The table of contents to vol. 5 (March 1832) may serve as an example of the themes covered in the contributions and of the multiplicity of authors:

UNE MATINÉE AUX INVALIDES, par M. Émile Deschamps.


DE LA BARBARIE DE CE TEMPS. 1832, par M. Delécluze.

MONSIEUR DE PARIS, par M. James Rousseau.

LES AMITIÉS LITTÉRAIRES EN 1831, par M. le marquis De Custine.

LES CONVOIS, par M. P.-F. Tissot.

UNE VISITE A CHARENTON, par M. Maurice Palluy, directeur de la Maison royale.


LA MANIE DES ALBUMS, par M. Henry Monnier.


PARIS IL Y A MILLE ANS, par Saint-Marc Girardin.

LES NATURALISTES FRANÇAIS, par M. Goethe (dernier écrit).

LES MAISONS DE JEU, par M. le comte Armand d'Allonville.


LES BÉOTIENS DE PARIS (deuxième série), par M. Louis Desnoyers.



LES OBSÈQUES DE M. CUVIER (MM. Jouy, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Villemain et Arago).

Observations on localities, the demography and institutions of Paris (such as a morning in the Dôme des Invalides, the emigrants leaving France for America from the Port of Saint Nicolas, or a visit to the asylum of Charenton), on places of entertainment and various forms of public life (vaudeville cafés, playhouses, funeral processions, the Théatre Montansier, or literary friendships), are marshalled next to portraits of the most varied socio-cultural or avocational ‘types’ (young folk without means, "Monsieur de Paris", typesetters at a printer’s, the ‘dullards’ [Béotiens] of Paris). And these are interspersed with reflections on contemporary history or fashions for which the metropolis acts as a focus (e.g. on the barbarity of the times, the cholera plague, or the mania for albums). In addition, the famous biologists of the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Geoffroy de Saint-Hilaire und Cuvier, have contributions in their honour. One of these is from the pen of Goethe; it is in fact his last written piece, an article on Saint-Hilaire’s "Principes de philosophie zoologique", the second part of which appeared shortly before Goethe’s death in the "Berliner Jahrbücher für wissenschaftliche Kritik". Like Goethe, Cuvier had died in 1832, and thus the final article about Cuvier’s funeral service, written by Saint-Hilaire and other famous scholars, provides an echo to the pointer that Goethe’s contribution was his ‘last written piece’ (‘dernier écrit’). The list of contributors shows an equally comprehensive range as that of their subjects, with ‘classics’ of the highest European standing in the world of literature and science alongside Parisian contemporaries such as the intellectual and journalist Saint-Marc Girardin who gave French lessons to Gutzkow in Berlin in 1830 ("Rückblicke auf mein Leben", journal version [RueVWWW], note to 5,32), the caricaturist Henry Monnier and ‘Society’ figures such as the Marquis de Custine or Madame Tastu.

Unity is preserved amid this diversity through a number of factors. The articles are characterised by a marked consciousness of the present, as the very mention of the years 1831 and 1832 in some of the titles indicates. This in turn relates to the function of each contribution as a snapshot, or - in keeping with the traditional visual orientation of such city literature - as a ‘sketch’, which, together with ‘hundreds’ of other sketches, provides a total picture, a ‘tableau’ or ‘physiognomy’ of the city. Contemporaneous with the "Livre", the small journals of the July Monarchy, e.g. "La Mode" and "La Caricature", published sketches of this sort, frequently under the heading "Physiologie". The borrowings of early sociological sketch literature from the disciplines of medicine and zoology are dealt with in the "Globalkommentar" of "Die Zeitgenossen" ( Naturwissenschaftliche Paradigmen). Given this background, the presence of scientists in the "Livre" may be less surprising.

The experiment in serial publication that Ladvocat undertook with the "Livre des Cent-et-un" proved so successful that it became the fashion. A great number of Parisian serials then appeared well into the mid 40s, often richly illustrated collective efforts, which occupied themselves with metropolitan life and its ‘types’ and were also favourably received abroad. The most famous of these is "Les Français peints par eux-mêmes", which (like a number of other Parisian serials) had Balzac amongst its contributors. This work appeared in 422 parts @ 0.30fr. from April 1839 to August 1842 and was collected in eight luxuriously appointed volumes, the first five dedicated to Paris, the following three to the provinces (Les Français peints par eux-mêmes. Encyclopédie morale du XIXe siècle. 8 vols. Paris: Curmer, 1840-42). The publication of this ‘encyclopaedia of mores’ runs parallel to the heyday of the "Physiologies". Between 1840 and 1842 hundreds of brochures, printed in the pocket size of ‘in-32’ (sextodecimo: 16 sides, i.e. 32 pages, per folio sheet), each booklet circa 120 pages long, mostly illustrated and often by anonymous authors whose identity as ‘types’ was wittily alluded to. These publications ‘physiologised’ in humorous fashion everything from the bluestocking and smoker to the theatre, the umbrella or the pun: "Physiologie du bas-bleu", "Physiologie du fumeur", Physiologie du théâtre. Par un journaliste", "Physiologie du parapluie. Par deux cochers de fiacre", "Physiologie du calembourg. Par un nain connu". ("Die Zeitgenossen", Globalkommentar: Naturwissenschaftliche Paradigmen)

If the 1840s saw the flourishing of a ‘physiological fashion’, originating from Paris, in the whole of Europe, the international resonance of the "Livre des Cent-et-un" a decade earlier was already considerable. From its first volume it was reprinted by the Brussels publisher Méline, but, rather exceptionally, not as a pirate edition ("contrefaçon"; Lexikon: Brüsseler Nachdruck), but in agreement with the publisher Ladvocat. Méline (Lexikon: Brüsseler Nachdruck, Méline) had even obtained the right to issue his copies on the same day as they appeared in Paris. Since from vol. 3 the rights were transferred to the Brussels publisher Peeters in conjunction with the Allgemeine Niederländische Buchhandlung in Leipzig, it can be assumed that the "Livre" was available in Germany as a Paris publication hot from the presses. What is certain is that Schmerber in Frankfurt and (up to vol. 10) Schlesinger in Berlin reprinted the "Livre", probably with a time lag. Additionally, it appeared in German translation. The following volumes have been traced so far: Paris oder das Buch der Hundert und Ein. Potsdam: Ferdinand Riegel, 1832 (vols 1-4), 1833 (vols 5-6). The translators were Julius Karolina (vol. 1) and Theodor Hell (vols 2-6). (For Theodor Hell cf. Rückblicke auf mein Leben, journal version, note to RueWWW, 9,9-11.) In issue 21 of 25 January, 1832, the "Berliner Figaro" announced a German equivalent to the "Livre" which would deal with life in the Prussian capital: "Berlin shall also have its Livre de [sic] Cent-et-un. Every author of note in the literary world will supply a contribution." This plan obviously never succeeded, perhaps - thus Gutzkow’s complaint in the preface to his Novellen (1834) - because for the "one hundred painters of mores" of the "Livre", "probably not even ten" contributors could have been rustled up from amongst the practised journalistic observers of the day in Germany.

The significance of the „Livre des Cent-et-un“ for Gutzkow#

Gutzkow deals most fully with the "Livre" in the preface just quoted ("Vorrede", NoWWW, pp. 9,29-10,19). The character sketches of the Parisian serial had inspired him, he says, to attempt two portraits of this type, namely the Berlin sketches "Die Sterbecassirer" (The Funeral Fund Clerks) and "Die Singekränzchen" (The Glee Clubs), each supplied with the subtitle Bambocciade, signifying a grotesque type of genre painting (cf. "Die Sterbecassirer", Quellen, Folien, Anspielungshorizonte: Gattungsfolien; as well as note to 73,2). It is conceivable that these two studies were intended as contributions to the planned Berlin equivalent of the "Livre des Cent-et-un". Gutzkow published both in 1833 in Cotta’s "Morgenblatt" (Rasch and; for further details see the commentary to "Die Sterbecassirer", 4.2 Entstehungsgeschichte. In his "Rückblicke", Gutzkow refers once more to the genre of Parisian urban sketches and the fact that it appeared as a model to him in the thirties. Apart from them, he also had in mind Bulwer’s proto-sociological study "England and the English", a work peppered with sketches or "Illustrations of Character", when composing "Die Zeitgenossen" (Our Contemporaries) of 1837: "The genre-picture style, the attempt to draw modern characters in the manner of La Bruyère, was something common to the literatures of France and England at the time. In Germany, too, many a pen sought to prove itself through articles written in the style of contributions to the Livre des Cent et un, short, quickly jotted sketches about things and people, professional classes, mores and customs. A combination of these character types, with the intention of illustrating the peculiarities and developments of our century under certain groupings, was presented in Die Zeitgenossen, which I edited under Bulwer’s name." (RueWWW, pp. 157-158)

Gutzkow’s view of the journalistic sketch was not high. In the preface to Novellen he writes that Die Sterbecassirer and Die Singekränzchen belong to a genre "of the kind over which one can enthuse for one week" (NoWWW, p. 9). In the same vein he does not concede his affinity to the ‘genre painter’ Bulwer either, whom he did not rate very highly (Lexikon: Bulwer). None of this, however, can mask the supreme importance of western European sketches for Gutzkow’s profile as a publicist and writer which was forming at precisely this time. Between 1833 and 1835 he wrote ‘physiological’ essays which would not be out of place in a serial of the Parisian type: "Studien über das Negligé" (Studies of the Negligé) (Rasch, "Der Berliner Journalist" (The Berlin Journalist) (Rasch, "Naturgeschichte der deutschen Kameele" (Natural History of the German Camel) (Rasch, and "Ueber Pudel, Jokeys und Nachtigallen oder über die kleinen Freuden des Lebens" (Of Poodles, Jockeys and Nightingales or of the Small Pleasures of Life) (Rasch What is at least as important for Gutzkow as the sociological and discursive character of the sketch is the genre’s affinity to the serial principle of encyclopaedic publications and to the collective nature of journalistic publications. His attempt, together with Ludolf Wienbarg, to found a German review-type journal modelled on Western European paradigms, the "Deutsche Revue", has as its explicit aim not only to bring together "all German creative authors and scholars", but to conjoin science and literature in a manner pioneered by the "Revue de Paris" and the "Revue des deux mondes". Moreover, the fact that the planned weekly was intended to combine the "character of journal and book" (cf. DtRevE, p. 4) also points to the model of a serial work of the type of the "Livre des Cent-et-un" (cf. "Zeitgenossen", Globalkommentar, 6.1.4. Enzyklopädie und Revue als Ordnungen des Wissens). What can be stated with certainty is that for Gutzkow, this ‘Parisian physiognomy’ provided one of the milestones for his distinctly metropolitan outlook. Even though Berlin as the seat of Prussian Reaction drew his criticism again and again, it was important to him to portray the potential of that city both as a centre in its own right and as a metropolis. This provides an important drive for his novel "Die Ritter vom Geiste" (1850-51). But even as early as 1834, in the preface to "Novellen", he deplored the fact that public attitude in Germany was "cold" to Berlin, implying that sketches such as "Die Sterbecassirer" and "Die Singekränzchen" might improve, indeed were well-suited to, the schooling of the German reading public in the metropolitan "art of decipherment" ("Deschiffrirkunst"; NoWWW, vol. 1, p. 63). In imitation of Lesage and of the leading figure of the "Livre des Cent-et-un", the friend in "Die Singekränzchen" who initiates the first-person narrator in this art bears the name Asmodi.

List of references#

Paris, ou Le Livre des Cent-et-un. 15 vols. Paris: Ladvocat, 1831-34.

Paris, ou Le Livre des Cent-et-un. 15 vols. Brussels: Méline [from vol. 3: Brussels: Peeters, Leipzig: Allgemeine Niederländische Buchhandlung], 1831-34.

Paris, ou Le Livre des Cent-et-un. _ vols¯. Frankfurt/M.: Schmerber, _dates of publication¯.

_Paris, ou Le Livre des Cent-et-un.¯ vols 1-10. Berlin: Schlesinger, _dates of publication¯.

Paris oder das Buch der Hundert und Ein. Translated by Julius Karolina (vol. 1) and Theodor Hell (vols 2-6). Potsdam: Riegel, 1832 (vols 1-4), 1833 (vols 5-6). _Additional vols¯

Les Français peints par eux-mêmes. Encyclopédie morale du XIXe siècle. 8 vols. Paris: Curmer, 1840-42.

Edward Lytton Bulwer: Asmodeus at Large. In: New Monthly Magazine, vol. 34 (January-June 1832), pp. 38-48; 112-120; 312-320; 423-432; vol. 35 (July-December 1832), pp. 24-32; 104-114; 409-417; 494-504; vol. 36 (January-June 1833), pp. 61-68; 155-168.

[Théodose Burette:] Physiologie du fumeur. Illustrated by Lorentz. Paris: Bourdin, 1840.

[Louis Couailhac:] Physiologie du théâtre. Par un journaliste. Illustrated by Emy. Paris: Aubert, 1841.

Karl Gutzkow: Die Sterbecassirer. Bambocciade. In: idem: Novellen. 2 vols. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1834. Vol. 1, pp. 107-128. (Rasch

Karl Gutzkow: Die Singekränzchen. Bambocciade. In: idem: Novellen. 2 vols. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1834. Vol. 2, pp. 61-88. (Rasch

[Karl Gutzkow:] Die Zeitgenossen. Ihre Schicksale, ihre Tendenzen, ihre großen Charaktere. Aus dem Englischen des E. L. Bulwer. 2 vols. Stuttgart: Verlag der Classiker, 1837. (Rasch 2.14)

Jules Janin: Asmodée. In: Paris, ou Le Livre des Cent-et-un. Vol. 1. Paris: Ladvocat, 1831. Pp. 1-15.

Physiologie du calembourg. Par un nain connu. Illustrated by Emy. Paris: Bocquet, 1841.

Physiologie du parapluie. Par deux cochers de fiacre. Illustrated by Lacoste. Paris: Desloges, 1841.

[Frédéric Soulié:] Physiologie du bas-bleu. Illustrated by Jules Vernier. Paris: Aubert, 1841.

Secondary Literature#

Walter Benjamin: Charles Baudelaire. A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. Translated from the German by Harry Zohn. London: Verso, 1983.

Olaf Briese: "Das Auge der Polizei". Großstadtoptik um 1850. In: Gustav Frank and Detlev Kopp (eds): Gutzkow lesen! Beiträge zur Internationalen Konferenz des Forums Vormärz Forschung vom 18. bis 20. September 2000 in Berlin. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2001. Pp. 263-297.

Kai Kauffmann: "Es ist nur ein Wien!" Stadtbeschreibungen von Wien 1700 bis 1873. Geschichte eines literarischen Genres der Wiener Publizistik. Vienna, Cologne, Weimar: Böhlau, 1994.

Martina Lauster: Sketches of the Nineteenth Century. European Journalism and its 'Physiologies', 1830-50. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Martina Lauster: Physiologien aus der unsichtbaren Hauptstadt. Gutzkows soziologische Skizzen im europäisch-deutschen Kontext. In: Roger Jones / Martina Lauster (eds): Karl Gutzkow. Liberalismus - Europäertum - Modernität. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2000. Pp. 217-254.

Roman Luckscheiter: Das Parlament als geistige Lebensform. Wie die Literatur nach der Julirevolution ihre Leser auf die Massengesellschaft einstimmte. Neue Zürcher Zeitung Online, 10. Mai 2008.

Nathalie Preiss: Les Physiologies en France au XIXe siècle: étude historique, littéraire et stylistique. Mont-de-Marsan: Éditions InterUniversitaires, 1999.

Karlheinz Stierle: Der Mythos von Paris. Zeichen und Bewußtsein der Stadt. Munich, Vienna: Hanser, 1993. Esp. pp. 105-128 (Mercier), 227-288 (Livre des Cent-et-un, Les Français peints par eux-mêmes, Physiologies).

Karlheinz Stierle: Baudelaires "Tableaux Parisiens" und die Tradition des 'Tableau de Paris'. Poetica, 6 (1974), 285-322. English translation: Baudelaire and the Tradition of the 'Tableaux de Paris'. New Literary History, 11 (1979-80), 345-361.

Further reading, especially on the 'Physiologies', is listed in the bibliographical information at the end of the "Globalkommentar" to Die Zeitgenossen.

(Martina Lauster, Exeter; English translation R. J. Kavanagh, Cork)