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Mingrat: anatomy of a restoration cause célèbre

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225–246
JournalFrench History
Volume29
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jul 2014
DOIs
E-pub ahead of print2 Jul 2014
PublishedJun 2015

King's Authors

Abstract

This article explores the discursive afterlife of the 1822 murder of Marie Gérin by the Abbé Mingrat, who subsequently fled France and was never extradited. The crime, which the Restoration government attempted to conceal, is read here as a cause célèbre that acted throughout the Restoration as a watchword of anticlerical and otherwise oppositional opinion. The article examines pamphlets published by Marie’s relatives and by Paul-Louis Courier, on the one hand, and on the other, official papers relating to the persecution of Marie’s brother for his attempts to publicize the crime. It takes these texts as symptomatic of a broader early nineteenth-century dispute: a cultural and moral disagreement about the meaning of scandal, which might be imagined ‘conservatively’, as a pathogenic spectacle that spreads corruption; or, as it was by the pamphleteers, ‘progressively’, as a therapeutic revelation that brings that corruption to an end. It also contributes to our understanding of the modes of political participation available to those excluded from the Restoration political process.

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