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The Blind in French Society from the Middle Ages to the Century of Louis Braille$
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Zina Weygand

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804757683

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804757683.001.0001

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Social Representations and Literary Figures of Blindness in the First Third of the Nineteenth Century

Social Representations and Literary Figures of Blindness in the First Third of the Nineteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.189) Chapter 11 Social Representations and Literary Figures of Blindness in the First Third of the Nineteenth Century
Source:
The Blind in French Society from the Middle Ages to the Century of Louis Braille
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804757683.003.0012

This chapter examines representations of the blind in the early nineteenth century. It reviews texts about well-to-do blind people who became famous for intellectual accomplishments while sharing family values, and fictional works with plots constructed around the real or supposed blindness of one or more protagonists. It argues that with rare exceptions, French theater and the French novel of the day reflect an image of the blind and of blindness that is not more realistic than that of the past. In particular, in the two literary genres inherited from the late eighteenth century—the sentimental novel and melodrama—blindness is of less interest to authors in and of itself than it is a springboard for a discourse on good and evil, where the blind are asked to make us see something other than themselves. What has changed, though, is that the blind person is no longer suspected of having a pact with the world of shadows.

Keywords:   blind, blindness, nineteenth century, fiction, sentimental novel, melodrama

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