From Corfu to Caledonia: The Early Travels of Charles DUPIN, 1808–1820
It is a common conceit of the English that France was cripplingly isolated during the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars that dragged on, with only one short break, from 1792 to 1814. In this way, comforting sense can be made of French backwardness in some key branches of industrial technology (notably in the use of steam power) and of the intense curiosity about Britain which French writers displayed after the fall of Napoleon. When viewed from France, however, the picture is somewhat different. For although France was indeed isolated from Britain during the wars, she was by no means isolated from lands to the east and the south. In fact, at various times during the Consulate and the Empire, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and the islands and coast of the Adriatic were all unprecedently accessible as a result of military conquest. It would be hard to overestimate the importance for French culture of this new accessibility. The Egyptian style in dress and furniture under Napoleon was a vogue directly encouraged by travels and travellers’ tales, while in literature, Stendhal’s largely autobiographical Chartreuse de Parme (1839) was a particularly well known if tardy product of a love of Italian culture first conceived under the Empire.
KeywordsDescriptive Geometry Quarterly Review Ionian Island Comforting Sense Cultural Horizon
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