‘Le Néant de ce qu’on appelle gloire’: Post-Revolutionary Cultural Memory and the Dialogue des Morts
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Goodman, J. (2016). ‘Le Néant de ce qu’on appelle gloire’: Post-Revolutionary Cultural Memory and the Dialogue des Morts. Romance Studies, 33 179-191. https://doi.org/10.1080/02639904.2015.1124215
As France was struggling to find ways to shape its national history and cultural heritage following the Revolution, an unknown author in a minor genre was reflecting on what the recent social and political upheaval meant for the celebrated protagonists of France’s past and present. François de Pagès, in his 1800 dialogues des morts, brings together the illustrious dead to comment on the world they have left behind, and on their own lives and legacies. A particular concern, articulated by Mirabeau, Marat, Voltaire, Rousseau and others, is what it takes to be remembered, and conversely, to be forgotten. This article explores this question first as it appeared in the reality of 1790s France – from the ‘impossible’ Panthéon, to the reimagining of pre-revolutionary cultural icons – then as it is set out in Pagès’ text, which brings together pre- and post-revolutionary greats, and examines their relative ‘gloire’. I underline the contentious nature of the ‘grand homme’ in the revolutionary decade, and suggest that the capacity of literary creation to provide a durable but flexible form of cultural memory is one of the reasons for the renewed popularity of the dialogue des morts in this period.
posterity, Panthéon, eighteenth-century France, memory, commemoration, dialogue of the dead
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02639904.2015.1124215
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/248164