Revolutionizing the Fossilized: Balzac and Janin's Naturalist Discourse in Les Français peints par eux-mêmes

This article questions the panoramic genre through a study of Les Français peints par eux-mêmes and its relation with natural history. Both Janin and Balzac saw similarities between the volumes' social taxonomies and the scientific classifications of the period. At stake in the matter is the question of who "les Français" are and what traits can be put forward as part of a common national identity. Yet, both writers—and ultimately the collective project as a whole— constantly question the taxonomies that their texts are building, eventually casting a doubt on the possibility of classification itself.

Pauline de Tholozany
Volume 2012 (41.1-2)