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Becoming Bourgeois: Love, Kinship, and Power in Provincial France, 1670-1880 (Hardback)
  • Becoming Bourgeois: Love, Kinship, and Power in Provincial France, 1670-1880 (Hardback)
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Becoming Bourgeois: Love, Kinship, and Power in Provincial France, 1670-1880 (Hardback)

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£52.00
Hardback 360 Pages / Published: 16/11/2015
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Becoming Bourgeois traces the fortunes of three French families in the municipality of Vannes, in Brittany-Galles, Jollivet, and Le Ridant-who rose to prominence in publishing, law, the military, public administration, and intellectual pursuits over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Revisiting complex issues of bourgeois class formation from the perspective of the interior lives of families, Christopher H. Johnson argues that the most durable and socially advantageous links forging bourgeois ascent were those of kinship. Economic success, though certainly derived from the virtues of hard work and intelligent management, was always underpinned by marriage strategies and the diligent intervention of influential family members.Johnson's examination of hundreds of personal letters opens up a whole world: the vicissitudes of courtship; the centrality of marriage; the depths of conjugal love; the routines of pregnancy and the drama of childbirth; the practices of child rearing and education; the powerful place of siblings; the role of kin in advancing the next generation; tragedy and deaths; the enormous contributions of women in all aspects of becoming bourgeois; and the pleasures of gathering together in intimate soirees, grand balls, country houses, and civic and political organizations. Family love bound it all together, and this is ultimately what this book is about, as four generations of rather ordinary provincial people capture our hearts.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801453984
Number of pages: 360
Weight: 794 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 28 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Johnson's latest book, in my opinion, represents his supreme intellectual achievement. Since the turn of the century, his method of studying economic history-culling data, facts, and testimony from archives; synthesizing and interpreting them by means of theories of development and crisis-has been overtaken by studies of the writings on political economy."

-- Stephen Miller * H-France Review *

"The book chips away at our assumptions about a period and a class thatseem to epitomize 'separate spheres.' It convincingly demonstrates the importance of studying the inner life of a family-its taken-for-granteds, its habitus, and within the grid of kinship that provides the bedrock of class solidarity. It is also a delight to read."

-- Denise Z. Davidson * Journal of Interdisciplinary History *

"Following an interconnected set of families in the western French city of Vannes from the end of the seventeenth to the middle of the nineteenth centuries, Christopher H. Johnson argues that kinship-especially marital strategies and the cultivation of intense familial affection-made the modern bourgeoisie.... Becoming Bourgeois is a model for combining social and cultural history. Johnson knows the traditional materials of social history-tax rolls, property transactions, and voter lists-inside and out. He is also fully in command of the etat-civil and the details of the marriages, births, and deaths on the Jollivet-Galles family trees. His sympathetic and meticulous readings of the family correspondence make the archive of social and demographic history come to life."

-- Carol E. Harrison, University of South Carolina * Journal of Modern History *

"Becoming Bourgeois is a monumental study of many generations of a French family, based on an extraordinary cache of documents, particularly letters. Christopher H. Johnson's book reads like a grand historical novel, full of details about place and politics, but focused on the intimate lives of his protagonists. He shows us how this family and its networks of kin and friendship lived, thought, and worked over the course of two centuries. Johnson's deft and subtle readings bring us close to these lives. The family story is told for its own sake, but the history of economics, social structures, and political conflict comes alive in these pages. This is a major contribution to social history."

-- Joan Wallach Scott, Professor Emerita, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study

"This is the book I have been waiting for for a long time. It finally puts real 'flesh on the genealogical bones.' It is not only the best place to go to understand the family and kinship dynamics of nineteenth-century Europe, but it is also a good read in itself: elegant, gripping, and moving. Through a long and productive scholarly career, Christopher H. Johnson has been honing his considerable skills to arrive at a major work of cultural and social synthesis with a fine feel for detail and a sovereign grasp of the most salient issues of current historical research. This book will not disappear into the maelstrom of academic publishing but will establish itself quickly as a classic and will continue to be read and influence research for several generations to come."

-- David Warren Sabean, Henry J. Brumen Endowed Professor of German History, UCLA, author of Kinship in Neckarhausen, 1700-1870

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