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Review: Privacy No More: Historians in Search of Nineteenth Century Intimacy

Reviewed Works: Histoire de la vie privée. Vol. 4 by Michelle Perrot, Alain Corbin, Lynn Hunt, Catherine Hall, Anne Martin-Fugier, Roger-Henri Guerrand; Le bourgeois dans tous ses états, le roman familial de la Belle Epoque by Denis Bertholet
Review by: Arthur Mitzman
Journal of Social History
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Winter, 1990), pp. 359-370
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3787503
Page Count: 12
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Privacy No More: Historians in Search of Nineteenth Century Intimacy
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Abstract

This essay reviews "Histoire de la vie privée," tome 4, edited by Michelle Perrot and Denis Bertholet's "Le Bourgeois dans tous ses états"; in its conclusion it compares them with Peter Gay's "The Bourgeois Experience." The emphasis is on the broad variety of the approaches to intimate experience exemplified by these works. In Perrot's volume, there is an interesting contrast between her own approach and that of her fellow-contributor Alain Corbin. Implicitly Durkeimian, Perrot's perspective stresses the family as vehicle both of social constraint and of character development. Corbin's, reminiscent of Foucault, focusses more on the coercive power of old and new ideologies -- Catholic, medical and social-scientific -- in containing, judging and measuring the individual. Bertholet's book, limited in scope to the bourgeois imagination around 1900, uses two popular periodicals as embodiments of middle class norms and values regarding women, sex, politics and society and discusses these in a psychoanalytic framework. Bertholet's work, which tries to link the history of mentalities approach to psychoanalytic history, while eschewing individual biography, is compared with Peter Gay's focus on individual experience in social and psychoanalytic context. An integration of the methods used by Perrot, Bertholet and Gay is deemed desirable for the further development of social-cultural history.

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