Regicide and the Eloquence of Silence: The Expulsion of Manuel from the Assembly (1823) and Béranger’s Chansons nouvelles (1825)
This article examines the politics and aesthetics of silence in the Restoration through Jacques-Antoine Manuel’s 1823 speech in the Chamber of Deputies, allegedly condoning regicide, and Pierre-Jean de Béranger’s politically radical Chansons nouvelles of 1825. Although an official policy of forgetting was enshrined in the Charte constitutionnelle of 1814, various political forces struggled over competing memorializations of the Revolution and its central event, the execution of the King. The imposition of a narrative of expiation by the right effectively silenced the left’s program of completing the Revolution. The defiant display of silence after Manuel’s expulsion from the Assembly was mirrored by the public ambiguity surrounding his intimate relationship with Béranger, as well as by the ellipses marking ostensibly censored passages in Béranger’s songs. Silence might mask any terrifying or scandalous secret that Manuel’s opponents or Béranger’s readers could imagine, as the Revolution was continued through other means.