Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sundays with Stendhal 5 (delayed)

The canons of political correctness of France of 1830:

So long as you did not speak lightly of God, or of the clergy, or of the King, or of the men in power, or of the artists patronised by the court, or of anything established; so long as you did not say anything good of Berenger, or of the opposition press, or of Voltaire, or of Rousseau, or of anything that allowed itself the liberty of a little freedom of speech; so long, above all, as you did not talk politics, you could freely discuss anything you pleased.

There is no income of a hundred thousand crowns, no blue riband that can prevail against a drawing-room so constituted. The smallest living idea seemed an outrage. Despite good tone, perfect manners, the desire to be agreeable, boredom was written on every brow. the young men who came to pay their respects, afraid to speak of anythng that might lead to their being suspected of thinking, afraid to reveal some forbidden reading, became silent after a few elegantly phrased sentences on Rossini and the weather.

(The Red and the Black, Part II, Chapter 34, "The Hotel de La Mole.")








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