A Taste for Comfort and Status: A Bourgeois Family in Eighteenth-Century France

Overview

The Lamothes were an ordinary family in eighteenth-century Bordeaux. Well-to-do and well respected by their neighbors, they were local notables whose private and public lives suggest the importance of family, kin, and friendship networks, professional activities and cultural interests, as well as a desire to serve the public good. In this portrait of the Lamothes, Christine Adams explores the development of middle-class identity among urban professionals and reconsiders the role...

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Overview

The Lamothes were an ordinary family in eighteenth-century Bordeaux. Well-to-do and well respected by their neighbors, they were local notables whose private and public lives suggest the importance of family, kin, and friendship networks, professional activities and cultural interests, as well as a desire to serve the public good. In this portrait of the Lamothes, Christine Adams explores the development of middle-class identity among urban professionals and reconsiders the role of this social group in the coming French Revolution.

The most striking feature of this family history is that it is based on more than three hundred personal letters that circulated among the Lamothes—parents and seven siblings—over a period of twenty-five years. Such a collection is rare for this period, and Adams makes the most of it. Her study lends remarkable texture to provincial middle-class life. She weaves these letters into every aspect of the Lamothes' experienceprofessional, literary, intellectual, social, and civic. She demonstrates a sustained mobilization of all family skills and resources to maintain the status of the males of the family and preserve (rather than risk) the family's emotional and material stability.

While their conservative lifestyle suggests that the Lamothes were not "revolutionary," they were, nonetheless, part of the bourgeoisie. Adams thus taps into a potent debate about middle-class consciousness and identity in the eighteenth century, arguing against those historians who doubt that such a social class existed in France before 1789.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Arguing against historians that doubt the existence of a bourgeois social class in France before 1789, Adams (history, St. Mary's College of Maryland) explores the professional, literary, intellectual, social, and civic experiences of the Lamothe family of 18th century Bordeaux as revealed in the 300 letters that circulated among the parents and siblings over a 25 year period. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271033594
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 11/20/2007
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine Adams is Assistant Professor of History at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She co-edited, with Jack R. Censer and Lisa Jane Graham, Visions and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France (Penn State, 1997).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. I Identity Through Family and Friends
1 "En Famille": The Private Life of the Lamothes 17
2 "Menager ta bourse": Management of the Family Fortune 51
3 The Wider Circle: Kin and Friends 87
Pt. II Identity Through Profession
4 The Professional Man and the World of Law 115
5 The Professional Identity of the Physician 151
Pt. III Identity Through Cultural Activities
6 Civic Pride and Public Service: The Academies of Bordeaux 191
7 'Savoir et Savoir-Vivre": The Cultural Life of the Lamothe Brothers 221
Conclusion 257
Appendixes 261
Bibliography 269
Index 285
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