Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All change!

"There were some who wanted a new Napoleonic empire, others, a return to the Orléans, others, the Comte de Chambord; but everyone was agreed on the urgency of decentralization, for which various methods were put forward, such as cutting Paris up into a mass of villages by means of large arterial roads, transferring the seat of government to Versailles, moving the principal state institutions of higher education down to Bourges, doing away with libraries, putting major-generals in charge of everything; and country people came in for very high praise, since illiterates naturally had more sense than anyone else! There was rampant hatred on all sides: hatred directed at primary school teachers and wine merchants, the philosophy classes in schools, the teaching of history, novels, red waistcoats, long beards, any kind of independence or expression of individuality, for it was essential to 'reassert the principle of authority,' no matter on whose behalf or who was exercising it, as long as it was tough and uncompromising! Conservatives were now talking the same language as Sénécal. Frédéric was completely puzzled and in his old mistress's house he was forced to listen to the same talk from the very same men!"

— Gustave Flaubert, A Sentimental Education, trans. Douglas Parmée, 424-425