What is it about?

This paper examines how the tapis-franc, where criminals met to drink, to eat and to plan crimes, is, in urban mysteries, presented as a radically diffrent space from the reader's world, yet oddly familiar. It also shows how the authors built their representation of this place by revisiting and adaptating how the "salon realiste" was depicted in many novels of that time. In fact, the representation of the city in these books in based in large part on these two locations, opposed in the hierarchy of society but functioning in similar ways.

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Why is it important?

This paper shows in details how the representation of society provided in urban mysteries is built, at the same time, on opposing criminal life and honest citizens and on blurring the distinction between them.


Urban mysteries were, for over centuries, novels overlooked and considered "simple" and "easy", when, if examined attentively, they show rich understanding of and insights on the society of their rime.

Nicolas Gauthier
University of Waterloo

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This page is a summary of: Le Tapis-franc criminel et le salon respectable: mise en regard chronotopique dans les mystères urbains (1842–59), Nineteenth Century French Studies, January 2017, Project Muse,
DOI: 10.1353/ncf.2017.0011.
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