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FCS195H1 (30)

The Second Empire

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Corina Sandu

1LECTURE VTHE SECOND EMPIRE 18521870 an examination of the Second Empire 18521870 and the dramatic social changes which characterize itit is difficult to say with any certainty which factors contributed to most to these social changes however the following are extremely significantthe disappearance of illiteracy in France andthe exponential growth of the printing industry books and periodicalsthat the beginning of the 19 century less than half of the male population in France knew how to read figures vary between 38 and 47 and the figure for women was even lower roughly 27by the time of the Second Empire however these statistics had changed quite dramatically to the extent that by the end of the century illiteracy in France had all but disappearedby the end of the Second Empire the literacy rate in France had risen to about 70 and by the end of the century to 85this remarkable progress came about for several reasons changes in the primary and secondary school systems technological progress which revolutionized print culture the rise of the popular press and the subsequent development of a whole new stratum of readers and with this new thinking about printing and especially marketing books members of the French nobility the haute bourgeoisie and even the welloff middle class had for many years been instructed in reading and writing as a matter of coursethmore remarkably the 19 century and particularly the period of the Second Empire was to see the rise of new groups of readers and these new readers would in many ways pose problems for the bourgeoisie which by 1852 had become the dominant social class in Francethese new groups were composed of workers rural populations womenduring the Empire the Restoration and the July Monarchy books were printed in very small quantities a reflection of course of a limited reading publicStendhals The Red and the Black for example had a printing of 750 copies a fairly standard number for the 1830sin contrast sales of Zolas novels only a few decades later often surpassed 50000 copies in the same way newspapers in the first years of the century were available only through subscription 5060 francs thus making them effectively unavailable to those who were unable to pay a large sum up front for their newspaper
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