Keys: Press and Privacy in the Goncourts’ Charles Demailly

This article explores the connections between Second Empire fiction and journalism with particular reference to the Goncourts’ Charles Demailly. A roman à clef, the Goncourts’ novel of journalism (the first edition of which was published 1860) sketches a portrait of the divided literary field under the Second Empire. Deeply pessimistic in its representation of the petite presse, the text stresses the gulf dividing literature from journalism and advances an argument about the media’s invasive tendencies: the newspaper, it suggests, threatens to reconfigure the limits of private life. Such concerns prove problematic: not only do the innumerable connections which bind newspaper to novel undermine the literature/journalism dichotomy, but Charles Demailly in fact appropriates the privacy-invading tendencies associated with le petit journal--making covert references in its keys to leading figures of the Second Empire literary field.

Edmund Birch
Volume 42.3-4