Parisian Social Studies: Positivism and the Novels of Balzac, Paul de Kock and Zola
In this dissertation I argue that the movement of panoramic literature under the July Monarchy (1830-1848) and its influence on the nineteenth-century urban novel must be re-imagined in the context of the proto-sociological movement of positivism. Existing criticism on panoramic literature typically views this movement as emerging from early-nineteenth-century urban upheaval. I focus here instead on early pre-sociological theory. Published concurrently with these panoramic texts whose popularity peaked in the early 1840s, the progressive theories of Auguste Comte (collected, in particular, in his Cours de philosophie positive from 1830-1842) promulgated a scientific, observational approach to the study of society. Throughout the five chapters of this project, I will posit that authors of urban novels, including Balzac, Paul de Kock and Zola, grappled with these theories actively, if implicitly at times, and that we can see this engagement most clearly in the passages employing the typological descriptions known as the tableaux de Paris, so central to panoramic literature.
Nineteenth-Century French Literature
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