Friendship and Politics in Post-Revolutionary France

By (author) Sarah Horowitz

Paperback - £31.95

Publication date:

01 February 2016

Length of book:

240 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271061931

In Friendship and Politics in Post-Revolutionary France, Sarah Horowitz brings together the political and cultural history of post-revolutionary France to illuminate how French society responded to and recovered from the upheaval of the French Revolution. The Revolution led to a heightened sense of distrust and divided the nation along ideological lines. In the wake of the Terror, many began to express concerns about the atomization of French society. Friendship, though, was regarded as one bond that could restore trust and cohesion. Friends relied on each other to serve as confidants; men and women described friendship as a site of both pleasure and connection. Because trust and cohesion were necessary to the functioning of post-revolutionary parliamentary life, politicians turned to friends and ideas about friendship to create this solidarity. Relying on detailed analyses of politicians’ social networks, new tools arising from the digital humanities, and examinations of behind-the-scenes political transactions, Horowitz makes clear the connection between politics and emotions in the early nineteenth century, and she reevaluates the role of women in political life by showing the ways in which the personal was the political in the post-revolutionary era.

By emphasizing the role of emotions in politics, Friendship and Politics in Post-Revolutionary France demonstrates the value of considering emotions and private life in understanding the careers of political figures. While the book emphasizes the interconnectedness of the public and private spheres, Sarah Horowitz takes a balanced approach on this matter. She recognizes the power of separate spheres discourse and its resulting limitations on women’s direct involvement in politics, yet she also shows that women’s ‘private’ natures made them useful tools as men sought to build emotional ties to other politicians, particularly those who were on opposing sides. In demonstrating how elite women and men understood friendship and politics in this period, the work makes a significant and original contribution to existing scholarship on early nineteenth-century France.

—Denise Z. Davidson, Georgia State University