For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Nostalgia and identity: Jules Simon’s La Femme du Vingtième Siècle"

by Brown, Kathryn (2010)


This article analyses Jules Simon’s nostalgic view of 17th-century femininity as part of his vision of French social reform during the 1890s. Simon’s enthusiasm for the past is located in the context of late 19th-century social criticism that prized a domestic role for women and used such a role to symbolize the re-establishment of boundaries between public and private life. Simon’s vision of female life underpins a form of social organization that sought to neutralize the ongoing effects of France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian war and the violence of France’s revolutionary past. I distinguish Simon’s nostalgic strategy from Jules and Edmond de Goncourt’s enthusiasm for the ancien régime and argue that Simon re-animates aspects of the past in order to temper progress in the new century. Nostalgia secures a preferred image of national identity and shapes an ideal narrative of both past and future.


Feminism, History, French Revolution, Social Reform


Simon, French History

Links to Reference



How to contribute.