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Law and Catastrophe$
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Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804756839

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804756839.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 17 October 2019

Political Catastrophe and Liberal Legal Desire: Two Stories of Revolution, Remediation, and Return From the French Nineteenth Century

Political Catastrophe and Liberal Legal Desire: Two Stories of Revolution, Remediation, and Return From the French Nineteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.56) Political Catastrophe and Liberal Legal Desire: Two Stories of Revolution, Remediation, and Return From the French Nineteenth Century
Source:
Law and Catastrophe
Author(s):

sylvia schafer

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804756839.003.0004

This chapter takes up the historicity of “law and catastrophe” by exploring the problem that political events, represented and narrated as human-made catastrophes, have posed for the liberal legal imagination during the turbulent first half of the nineteenth century in France. It considers those political catastrophes that appeared to contemporary observers to result in an unbearable disintegration or dislocation of the legally meaningful civil individual: the catastrophes of revolutionary uprising and their long aftermaths. The analysis focuses on two strongly charged discussions of how liberal constructions of law might mitigate political catastrophe and its long-lasting effects. Both date from the period between 1789 and 1850. The first, Honoré de Balzac's Colonel Chabert, looks at the problem of civil existence after the revolutionary and Napoleonic breaks with France's monarchical past. The second, a set of juristic writings on the significance of state-provided legal aid around the revolution of 1848, addresses the catastrophic consequences of a poverty that excluded individuals from seeking rectifications through civil action and, once radicalized, threatened to drive them to the barricades.

Keywords:   political events, law, catastrophe, France, revolutionary uprisings, Honoré de Balzac, Colonel Chabert, poverty

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