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Les censures dans le monde

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Laurent Martin

Première partie. Des censures d'église et d'état à la censure libérale, xixe-xxe siècles

Censorship of Caricature and the Theater in Nineteenth-Century France: An Overview

La censure de la caricature et du théâtre dans la France du xixe siècle : un aperçu1

Robert Justin Goldstein

Résumé

Nineteeenth-century French authorities especially feared the power of caricatures and the theater, even more than they feared the printed word. Thus, although prior censorhip of print was never in effect after 1822, censorship of caricature continued until 1881 and censorship of the theater until 1906. Caricature and the theater were feared more than the printed word because: 1) they were seen as far more powerful in impact than print; 2) because they were accessible to the especially feared “dark masses” who were often illiterate and thus could not understand printed matter; and 3) because caricatures and theater were often viewed in a collective manner which was especially feared as possibly touching often immediate disorders, whereas print was far more likely to be consumed in private in the homes of the more “reliable” middle classes. The topics of theater and caricature are treated together here also because the authorities often lumped them together and changes in their regulation often were handed down at about the same time, or even in the same legislation. One constant ran through the theater and caricature censorship: always, they aimed at preservation of the existing political power structure.

Les autorités françaises au XIXe siècle craignaient particulièrement le pouvoir des caricatures et du théâtre, davantage encore que celui du mot imprimé. Ainsi, alors que la censure a priori de la diffusion de l’imprimé cessa d’être utilisée après 1822, la censure des caricatures continua jusqu’en 1881 et celle des théâtres jusqu’en 1906. La caricature et le théâtre étaient plus redoutés que le mot imprimé parce que : 1) leur impact était considéré comme plus important 2) ils étaient accessibles aux « masses obscures » qui étaient souvent illettrées et ne pouvaient donc comprendre ce qui était écrit 3) les caricatures et le théâtre étaient souvent perçus comme susceptibles de déclencher des troubles à l’ordre public, tandis que l’écrit donnait plutôt lieu à une consommation dans le cadre domestique des classes moyennes jugées plus « sûres ». Une autre raison pour traiter ensemble les domaines de la caricature et du théâtre est que les autorités les mettaient « dans le même sac » et que les changements qui les affectèrent intervinrent souvent au même moment, dans le même texte législatif. Une constante relie encore ces deux domaines : dans les deux cas, la censure visait avant tout à la préservation de l’ordre politique.

Texte intégral

  • 1 This essay was originally published, under the same title, as part of a collection in R. J. Goldst (...)

1On September 20, 1874, the French caricature journal L’Éclipse declared, “One could one day write an exact history of the liberty which we enjoy during this era by writing a history of our caricatures.” Similarly, during an 1880 legislative debate on caricature censorship, the French deputy Robert Mitchell told his colleagues that a close examination of caricatures could be enormously revealing about governmental preferences and fears:

  • 2 Journal Officiel (JO), June 8, 1880, 6214.

“Drawings which displease the government are always forbidden. Those which have gained official favor are displayed in the windows of all the bookstores, are sold in all the kiosks. This provides a valuable indicator for the attentive observer, curious for precise information on the tastes, preferences, sentiments, hates and intentions of those who have control and care over our destinies. In studying refused drawings and authorized drawings, we know exactly what the government fears and what it encourages, we have a clear revelation of its intimate thoughts.”2

  • 3 O. Krakovitch, “Les ciseaux d’Anastasie: le théâtre au XIXe siècle,” in Censures: de la Bible aux (...)

2French historian Odile Krakovitch reached a similar conclusion about studying theater caricature in nineteenth-century France, especially with regard to how the repeated implementation and cancellation of the censorship helps to illuminate our knowledge of the times. Studying the massive censorship archives, she concluded, provides a “marvelous witness to the preoccupations, mentalities, reflexes, struggles, fears, consciences and knowledge of people of the century” as they document a “strange ballet, with the appearance and disappearance of censorship, entering and leaving at more or less regular intervals.”3

3Studying censorship of caricature and the theater in nineteenth-century France simultaneously as examples of censorship of the visual arts can be justified in many ways: both involved a mixture of text (caricature captions and literary scripts) and visual presentation, both tended to arouse the same fears of the authorities and, above all, both tended to be treated essentially the same by the authorities, with censorship of caricature and theater usually introduced and abolished at the same time under the same justifications. This is especially clear in 1835, when the government of King Louis Philippe successfully proposed re-introducing prior censorship of both caricature and the theater in the same laws (the so-called “September Laws”) even though censorship had theoretically been abolished forever in France in the 1830 constitution adopted in the wake of the July Revolution of that year. According to French Minister of Justice Jean-Charles Persil, however, the 1830 constitutional provisions applied to censorship of the printed word only, while drama and caricature were media so different than print and so far more powerful that they could justifiably be subjected to entirely different legal treatment, including prior censorship. Thus, Persil told the French legislature that the 1830 censorship ban

  • 4 Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (AP), Paris, Paul Ducatel, 1898, p 741; emphases in original

“Only applies to the right to publish and have printed one’s opinions; it the [written] press which is placed under the guarantee of the Constitution, it is the free manifestation of opinions which cannot be repressed by preventive measures. But there the solicitude of the Constitutional charter ends. It would clearly go beyond that goal if the charter were interpreted to accord the same protection to opinions converted into actions. Let an author be content to print his play, he will be subjected to no preventive measure; let the illustrator write his thought, let him publish in it that form, and as in that manner he addresses only the mind, he will encounter no obstacle. It is in that sense that it was said that censorship could never be reestablished. But when opinions are converted into acts by the presentation of a play or the exhibit of a drawing, one addresses people gathered together, one speaks to their eyes. That is more than the expression of an opinion, that is a deed, an action, a behavior, with which article seven of the charter is not concerned.”4

4The parallel treatment of caricature and theater is clear not only from this argument, but also from the fact that they were so often introduced and/or abolished at about the same time, usually in association with a general change of regime. Thus, prior censorship of caricature was abolished along with changes in regime in 1815, 1830, 1848 and 1870 (and for good in connection with the consolidation of the “republican republic” in 1881) and reinstated in 1820, 1835, 1852, and 1871, due either to changes in regime or, as with the September Laws, of a drastic shift in the political atmosphere. Censorship of the theater was abolished in 1830, 1848, 1870 and permanently in 1906 and re-implemented in 1835, 1850 and 1871.

5Although these dates are not identical they are certainly close enough to suggest, along with Persil’s parallel argument, that theater and caricature were viewed quite similarly by the authorities in the threats that they were perceived as posing.

  • 5 The hatred of caricaturists for censorship was boundless. Here in “The Ball,” caricaturist Alfred (...)

Illustration 1.5

  • 6 Caricaturists especially objected that their work was subject to prior censorship (before 1881), w (...)

Illustration 2.6

The great fear of visual imagery

6What about drama and drawings made the authorities fear them so much more than writing, which we know was the case, not only because of arguments such Persil’s in 1835 but, above all, because the printed word was never subject to prior censorship in France after 1822. In short, like some other forms of visual imagery such as photographs, posters and the cinema, caricature and the theater were perceived as posing a greater threat to public order and social stability than the written word because, to varying degrees, they were seen as more powerful in impact, more accessible to the lower classes (and above all the illiterate) and more likely to be viewed in a collective setting which was seen as potentially far more inflammable than the typical private, often middle class home, in which the written word was consumed in solitude or near-solitude.

  • 7 Archives nationales (AN), Paris, F18 2342 ; AP, 1898, p 741.

7Speaking of the power and impact of drawings, the French minister of the interior told his prefects in a September 8, 1829 communication that “engravings or lithographs act immediately upon the imagination of the people, like a book which is read with the speed of light; if it wounds modesty or public decency the damage is rapid and irremediable.” Seven years earlier, the interior minister warned his prefects that, “If the licensing of the press has always been a powerful auxiliary of the facts, the license of engraving is even more dangerous, because it acts directly upon the people and could lead them to revolt, or at least to scorn for the most respectable things.”7

  • 8 AP, 1898, p 741-742.

8Similarly, another French interior minister, Charles Duchatel, told the French legislature during the 1835 legislative debate on censorship of caricature that “there is nothing more dangerous, gentlemen, than these infamous caricatures, these seditious designs” which produce “the most deadly effect” and that there was “no more direct provocation to crimes which we all deplore” than those posed by subversive drawings. Elaborating on his basic argument that drawings and drama were entirely different media than the printed word, Justice Minister Persil maintained during the 1835 debate that it would “force the meaning of words to consider drawings the same as opinions” or to “establish a parallel between writings which address themselves to the mind and illustrations which speaks to the senses” because the “vivacity and popularity of the impressions” left by caricatures created a “special danger which well-intentioned legislation must prevent at all costs.” Legislative deputy Eugene Janvier echoed Duchatel in proclaiming that drawings “don’t address opinions, they address passions” and “deprave those who observe them, degrade intelligence, address themselves only to the low chords of the heart, play with crime and frolic with assassination!”8

9This argument that caricatures left an especially powerful impact upon public opinion is well supported by contemporary observers. Thus, in 1869 a Rouen bureaucrat informed his superiors in Paris that:

  • 9 C. Bellanger et al., Histoire générale de la presse francaise, II, Paris, PUF, 1969, p 352.

“The great Parisians newspapers play role in the movement of public opinion, but that which dominates it especially and entertains it is the small, acrimonious press, denigrating, ironic, which freely spreads each day scorn and calumny on all that concerns the government… The weekly newspapers, the illustrated [i. e. caricature] journals of opposition sell many more examples and are read much more than the serious organs of the same opinion. It is by ridicule, by perfidious jesting and defamations, that they are now making war on our institutions and the men who personify them. It is sad to avow that this war without dignity and without good faith is succeeding among all classes.”9

  • 10 P Thureau-Dangin, Histoire de la monarchie du juillet, Paris, Pion, 1888, p 575; C. Baudelaire, Th (...)

10The power of caricatures was especially evident during the early 1830s, when the journals of editor Charles Philipon, La Caricature and Le Charivari, featured repeated attacks upon King Louis Philippe, in which the king was repeatedly depicted in the form of a pear (“poire” in French). Even the extremely hostile account by French historian Paul Thureau-Dangin concedes that Philipon’s caricatures were “perhaps even yet more dangerous” for the regime than the printed word because they had “such audacity, such importance, a power so destructive, that history cannot neglect those illustrated papers, which from other points of view it would be tempted to scorn.” The English writer William Thackeray wrote that everyone who visited Paris during the 1830s “must remember the famous ‘poire’ which was chalked upon all the walls of the city and which bore so ludicrous a resemblance to Louis Philippe” and German author and political exile Heinrich Heine wrote that Paris was festooned with “hundreds of caricatures” hanging “everywhere” and that the “pear, and always the pear, is to be seen in every caricature” and the “glory from [the king’s head] hath passed away and all men see in it is but a pear.”10

  • 11 R. J. Goldstein, “André Gill and the Struggle Against Censorship of Caricature in France, 1867-187 (...)

11Contemporary observers gave similar credit during the 1865-1875 period to the opposition caricatures of André Gill. Thus, historian Jules Lermina has characterized the impact of his drawings during the 1860s by declaring that Gill cleverly targeted the “weak point in our political adversaries” and thus “served as one of the most useful artisans of the fall of the [Second] Empire of Napoleon III.” Referring to Gill’s attacks upon the so-called “monarchist republic” of the 1871-77 period, one Paris journal wrote in 1881 that Gill had “established the republic with a series of improvised masterpieces”, while a fellow caricaturist declared in 1895 that “all Republican Paris remembers that unforgettable period during which his incisive and biting crayon” struck “terrible blow against the monarchist republic.”11

  • 12 “Madame Anastasie” by André Gill, July 19, 1874 L’Éclipse. This is perhaps the single most famous (...)

Illustration 3.12

12Fears and evaluations concerning the power of the stage were frequently expressed in similar terms in nineteenth-century France. Thus, even the president of the French Society of Dramatic Authors, Baron Isidore Taylor, supported censorship in testimony before an 1849 state inquiry, declaring that those watching the stage experienced a “sort of electric communication, even more seductive for the masses than a speech, and one thousand times more dangerous than the most vehement article in the daily press.” As with caricature, the clearest evidence that such fears were widespread and directly related to the visual spectacle of the stage rather than to fear of captions or literary texts is that drama censorship was not abolished in France until 1906, while the censorship of the written word ended in 1822. Theater censor Hallays-Dabot expressed ideas similar to those of Taylor in his 1862 history of the theater censorship:

  • 13 O. Krakovitch, Les Pieces de théâtre soumises à la censure (1800-1830), Paris, Bibliothèque nation (...)

“An electric current runs through the playhouse, passing from actor to spectator, inflaming them both with a sudden ardor and giving them an unexpected audacity… Social theories of the most false and daring nature excite an audience, who in the emotion of the drama, cannot discern the lessons from the portrayals and speeches which are presented to them. When thousands of spectators, swept along by the intoxication of the drama, are subjected to a fatal influence, when the reverberations of the scandal will create a disturbed public, what safeguard could society find in the slow and methodical march of the laws [i. e. post-production prosecution of a play]?”13

13Similarly, socialist politician Louis Blanc wrote during the 1840s in defense of stage censorship that:

  • 14 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré: la liberté au théâtre au XIXe siècle, Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1985, p 83 (...)

“To permit a private person to act at the direction of his own caprice upon the assembled audience by the seduction of the set, the interest of the drama, the beauty of the women, the talent of the artists, the enchantment of the decoration and the lighting, that is to deliver the souls of the people as fodder to the first corrupter who comes along; that is to abandon to him the right to poison the sources of human intelligence. In such a country the government would not be worthy of the name, the state could not renounce the moral direction of society by the theater without abdicating.”14

A dangerous school for the poor

  • 15 D. English, Political Uses of Photography in the Third French Republic, 1871-1914, Ann Arbor, MI, (...)

14Aside from the feared power of their impact in general, caricature and theater were also particularly viewed with concern by the French authorities because they were accessible to the illiterate, unlike the written word. Illiteracy was not only extremely high in France, especially during the first half of the nineteenth-century, but it was especially so among the particularly feared poor “dark masses” who were viewed as unusually susceptible to revolutionary incitement. Thus, 50% of all army recruits in the 1830s were illiterate, and while fewer than 10% were illiterate by 1900, only 2% had completed secondary school, so as historian Donald English has noted, throughout the century France “remained a nation of semiliterate people” for whom the image remained a “more easily understandable and accessible medium” than print.15

  • 16 AN F18 2342; JO, June 8, 1880, p 6212-6213.

15The French police minister made his understanding of this point clear in an 1852 directive to his subordinates in which he declared that “among the means employed to shake and destroy the sentiments of reserve and morality which are so essential to conserve in the bosom of a well-ordered society, drawings are one of the most dangerous,” because “the worst page of a bad book requires some time to think and a certain degree of intelligence to understand, while the drawing communicates with movement and life, as to thus present spontaneously, in a translation which everyone can understand, the most dangerous of all seductions, that of example.” This not-so-subtle reference to the ability of drawings to communicate with “everyone” (i. e. even the poorly educated and illiterate) was made even clearer during an 1880 legislative debate on caricature censorship, when deputy Emile Villiers declared that while press freedom posed “problems and dangers,” the “unlimited freedom of drawings presents many more still,” since a drawing startles not only the mind but the eyes and was “a means of speaking even to the illiterate, of stirring up passions, without reasoning, without discourse.” The especial dangers posed by making seditious drawings available to the poor and illiterate was also made clear in an 1829 interior ministry directive, in which the French prefects were informed that “in general, that which can be permitted with difficulty when it is a question of expensive illustrations, or lithographs intended only to illustrate an important [i. e. expensive] work would be dangerous and must be forbidden when these same subjects are reproduced in engravings and lithographs at a cheap price.”16

  • 17 J. House, “Manet’s Maximilian: Censorship and the Salon,” in E. Childs (ed.), Suspended License: C (...)

16The same fear about the accessibility of drawings to the illiterate was clearly also a factor in view of French officials about the special dangers posed by the stage. Thus, at a time when the theater was widely considered to be the most important venues for education of the lower classes, theater inspectors during the reign of King Louis Philippe were directed to report in great detail about what they observed in theaters “in which the coarsest classes of people gather,” since such venues had become “the only school in which the lower class of society goes to learn its lessons.” Not only was French theater censorship implemented long after censorship of the written press was abolished, but such especial fears about the impact of the stage upon the illiterate were reflected in the fact that theater material viewed as targeted especially at the “dark masses” was typically subjected to particularly strict controls. As John House notes in a study of French censorship of images during the 1860s, while the authorities were in general “particularly wary of the potency of visual experience in the form of a print or a stage representation or a performance of a popular cafe concert song,” the “question of class-of determining what types of materials should be permitted for which social groups-seems to have been the most fundamental concern.”17

  • 18 O. Krakovitch, “Robert Macaire ou la Grande Peur des Censeurs,” Europe : Revue litteraire mensuell (...)

17As a result, the severity of the French theater censorship partly depended upon the perceived class nature of the intended audience, and as French theater historian Odile Krakovitch sums up, “The more modest and popular the theater the harsher the censors’judgments and the more numerous the required modifications.” Thus, plays which were approved for “legitimate” state-sponsored theaters typically patronized by the upper and middle classes were often barred from the popular stage. La mort en Loterie, for example, intended for the popular Gaité, was banned because, according to the censors, “if reform ideas which attack one of our penal institutions are admissible in the sphere of politics and philosophy, they are out of place in a vaudeville intended for a Boulevard [popular] theater.” Similarly, during Napoleon Ill’s reign, a censor wrote, concerning King Lear, that “its boldness could only be presented in an essentially literary venue, before an elite public” as “before the public of the boulevard it would be a spectacle whose philosophical import would not be understood but in which we fear only the degradation of royalty would be perceived.”18

  • 19 C. Condemi, Les Cafés-Concerts, Paris, Quai Voltaire, 1992, p 39 ; E. Kimminich, “Chansons étouffé (...)

18Until 1864, as an especial further safeguard that the theater would present only “safe” dramas to lower classes, all theater owners had to undergo police scrutiny to receive licenses and to post sometimes extremely heavy bonds to be forfeited in case of legal violations. Thus, the director of Paris’s Vaudeville Theatre had to deposit a bond of 300,000 francs in 1864, the staggering equivalent of $ 60,000 in American money of the time (similar so-called caution or security bonds were required for publishers of caricature journals and other newspapers, thus ensuring that poor people could not be theater or editorial directors). Before the 1864 termination of the theater licensing requirements, theoretically only the handful of state-subsidized theaters could perform so-called “legitimate” stage presentations, such as “serious” comedies, tragedies and operas, while the popular “Boulevard” theaters could officially present only pantomines, vaudevilles, short skits and songs that were unlikely to encompass serious political critiques. Censorship of French cafe-concerts were especially harsh due to their heavily working class audience during the late nineteenth-century, with about 10% of all songs proposed for such venues banned, a percentage far exceeding that for plays.19

  • 20 A. Cahuet, Histoire, fonctionnement et discussion de la censure dramatique, Ulan Éditions, 2012 (1 (...)

19In addition to fearing the perceived special power of caricature and drama and their accessibility to the poor and illiterate, as compared to the written word, the French authorities also especially feared drawings and the theater because they posed the special danger of attracting a collective audience which might be incited to immediate disorder, as compared to reading, which was typically conducted in the privacy of a (preferably middle class) home. This was, of course, especially true with regard to the theater, which largely explains why theater censorship extended until 1906 while caricature censorship was abolished in 1881. Although by definition the theater was consumed collectively, many caricatures, which took on the character of large posters when displayed in shop windows, kiosks and newsstands, also attracted a collective audience, as is evidenced by many surviving caricatures themselves which depict crowds examining them. Thus, one of the famous “poire” caricatures (from Philipon’s La Caricature of December 22, 1831) portrays a crowd of people examining caricatures displayed at the office of his printer, Aubert, near the Palais Royale, while one man faces the reader and proclaims, “You have to admit the head of government looks awfully funny.” Fears of the impact of theater upon its always collective audience were naturally even stronger than were fears of the immediate impact of a perceived dangerous caricature: one French prison director even proclaimed, “When they put on a bad drama, a number of young new criminals soon arrive at my prison.” Throughout the nineteenth century, advocates of theater censorship cited the widespread (but highly exaggerated) belief that the Dutch opera La Muette de Portici had triggered the successful 1830 Belgian revolution against Dutch rule, while the French theater censor Victor Hallays-Dabat wrote in 1862 that several plays presented in the 1840s had effectively provided a “sort of dress rehearsal” for the 1848 revolution. Thus, Hallays-Dabat wrote, “The public is like a group of children. Each of them by themselves is sweet, innocuous, sometimes fearful; but bring them together and you are faced with a group that is bold and noisy, often wicked. The courage or rather the cowardice of anonymity is such a powerful force!”20

  • 21 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré, p 150, 244-245, 227, 286; A. Cahuet, Histoire, fonctionnement et disc (...)

20The goals of the French theater and caricature censorship were always clear, even if specific guidelines were sometime vaguely stated: the protection of the existing political, social, economic and moral order. Thus, according to an analysis of over 200 censorship and prosecutorial decisions involving plays, newspapers and novels undertaken by four different French regimes between 1815 and 1870, about 55% of all such actions were based on perceived challenges to existing political and social authorities, with the balance almost all involving offense to the “moral” order. Officials during the Second Republic and Second Empire directed the drama censors to specifically eliminate “attacks against the principle of authority, against religion, the family, the courts, the army, in a word against the institutions upon which society rests” and especially to ban all scenes imbued with a “revolutionary spirit” or which presented “social ideas” or inspired “class antagonism,” as well as “all forms of factionalism, based on the principle that the theater must be place of repose and of distraction and not an overt arena of political passions.” Among the specific examples reflecting such principles effected by the theater censorship, Victor Hugo’s Marion de Lorme was banned because it unfavorably depicted Charles X’s long-dead ancestor Louis XIII and Alfred de Musset’s 1861 Lorenzaccio, a play about Renaissance Italy, was forbidden on the grounds, as the censors put it that, “The discussion of the right to assassinate a sovereign whose crimes and iniquities, even including the murder of the prince by his parents, cry out for vengeance… is a dangerous spectacle to present to the public.” Similar sensitivities led to frequent bans on materials which were seen as mocking even low-level governmental officials or inciting class conflict. Thus, censors refused to allow the phrase “the rich, in the design of God, are only the treasurers of the poor” from an 1853 play, and banned from Victor Sejour’s 1860 Les Adventuriers the comment that, “If a rich man wants to go hunting or dancing they rollout a carpet for him lest he weary his feet.”21

  • 22 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré, op. cit., p 15, 240; W. D. Howarth, Sublime and Grotesque: A Study of (...)

21Altogether, during the 1835-1847 period, of a total of 8,330 plays submitted to the French censorship, 219 (2,6%) were completely banned and another 488 (5,6%) underwent enforced modifications. During the especially ferocious censorship which followed Napoleon Ill’s 1851 coup d’État, of 682 submitted plays reported on in 1853, only 246 were approved intact, while 59 (8,4%) were rejected outright and changes were demanded in another 323 (47,4%). About 40 plays were banned in the aftermath of the 1871 Commune between 1870 and 1874, although thereafter theater interdictions became quite rare, with only about 20 plays banned between 1874 and the end of theater censorship in 1906 (including Zola’s famous Germinal and Sardou’s Thermidor, the first anathema to the left and the second to the right).22

  • 23 Although censorship of caricature was abolished for good in 1881, it remained for the theater unti (...)

Illustration 4.23

  • 24 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré, op. cit., p 224, 248-249, 286-287 ; J. Parrain, “Censure, théâtre et (...)

22The censors rejected and/or prosecuted thousands of caricatures between 1820 and 1881, including over 200 each in several years, including 1864, 1875, 1877 and 1880. In 1875, one liberal republican caricature journal, Le Grelot, suffered 67 censorship rejection under the rule of the “monarchist republic,” while in 1880 under a moderate republican regime, the monarchist caricature journal Le Triboulet suffered 42 caricature bans. The most common theme expressed in attacks on caricatures were that they denigrated government officials, created disrespect for the established order, demoralized society, often bordered on obscenity and even played at revolution and/or assassination. Thus, during the 1835 legislative debate on censorship of caricature, the duc de Broglie, King Louis Philippe’s prime minister, referred to caricatures as a display of “disgusting obscenities, of infamous baseness, of dirty productions” that forced pedestrians to “lower our eyes blushing from shame.” During the trial of the caricature journal Le Charivari in April 1835, the government prosecutor declared that “before overthrowing a regime, one undermines it by sarcasm, one casts scorn upon it.”24

  • 25 R. J. Goldstein, Censorship, p 11-12; E. Childs, “Big Trouble: Daumier, Gargantua, and the Censors (...)

23Although specific censorship guidelines for the caricature censors are rare, they are generally quite similar to those provided to the theater censors. Thus, an 1822 dispatch from the minister of interior to the prefects urged them to examine with “particular care” all illustrations which could present some character of “immorality, irreligion or of outrage upon the king,” and a 1879 document directed the censors to refuse “absolutely” drawings which were directed “against the head of state” and to authorize only “with the greatest circumspection concerning the legislative chambers, the magistrates, the army, religion or the clergy.” According to 1829 guidelines from the interior minister, religion must be protected “from all direct or indirect offense, including all fiction or allusion which could wound them,” and no attacks could be made upon “legitimate authority,” including those which subjected the “royal majesty and to the august dynasty of the Bourbons” to “attacks or allusions of whatever kind,” as well as similar attacks upon “foreign monarchs,” as the “sovereigns are reciprocally supportive of one another with regard to all which could attack their sacred character.” Two of the most famous caricatures which ran into censorship trouble in nineteenth-century France portrayed French monarchs extremely unfavorably. Daumier’s 1831 “Gargantua,” depicting King Louis Philippe as sitting on a toilet throne excreting boodle to his courtiers while extracting graft from the poor people of France led to a six-month jail term during a period when prior censorship of caricature was not in effect, while Gill’s 1867 “Rocambole” which snuck by the censors with its portrayal of Emperor Napoleon III as a half-dandy, half-bandit, eventually led to the banning of La Lune, the journal in which it appeared. Altogether, between 1815 and 1880 about 20 French caricature journals were banned by the government and virtually every prominent nineteenth-century French political caricaturist had his drawings forbidden, was prosecuted and/or was jailed25.

  • 26 In this famous caricature, “Authentic Picture of Rocambole,” published in the November 17, 1867 La (...)

Illustration 5.26

Bibliographie

REFERENCES LIST

Goldstein R. J. (ed.), Political Censorship of caricature in Nineteenth-Century France, Kent, OH, Kent State University Press, 1989.

Goldstein R. J. (ed.), The War for the Public Mind: Political Censorship in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Westport, CT. Praeger, 2000.

Goldstein R. J. (ed.), The Frightful Stage: Political Censorship of the Theater in Nineteenth-Century Europe, New York, Berghahn, 2009.

Goldstein R. J. (ed.), Out of Sight: Political Censorship of the Visual Arts in 19th-Century France, Yale French Studies, number 122, 2012.

Krakovitch O., Hugo censuré : la liberté au théâtre au XIXe siècle, Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1985.

Krakovitch O., “Les ciseaux d’Anastasie: le théâtre au XIXe siècle,” in Censures: de la Bible aux larmes Eros, Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1987.

Renault J.-M., Censure et caricatures : les images interdites et de combat de l’histoire de la presse en France et dans le monde, Paris, Pat a Pan, 2006.

Notes

1 This essay was originally published, under the same title, as part of a collection in R. J. Goldstein (ed.), Out of Sight: Political Censorship of the Visual Arts in 19th-Century France, Yale French Studies, number 122, 2012. Yale University Press has kindly granted permission to reprint it here.

2 Journal Officiel (JO), June 8, 1880, 6214.

3 O. Krakovitch, “Les ciseaux d’Anastasie: le théâtre au XIXe siècle,” in Censures: de la Bible aux larmes Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, 1987, p 56, 63.

4 Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (AP), Paris, Paul Ducatel, 1898, p 741; emphases in original.

5 The hatred of caricaturists for censorship was boundless. Here in “The Ball,” caricaturist Alfred Le Petit likens trying to be a caricaturist under censorship to working with a ball and chain, surmounted by Anastasie, the old hag withe huge scissors who personified the censorship, attached to his leg. Le Grelot, July 30, 1873 (private collection).

6 Caricaturists especially objected that their work was subject to prior censorship (before 1881), while the written press was not In this December 28, 1873 Le Grelot drawing by Alfred Le Petit, he warns that if a new press law is signed, the press (represented by a feather pen) will be just as stifled as caricature (represented by the bound and gagged crayon in the background).

7 Archives nationales (AN), Paris, F18 2342 ; AP, 1898, p 741.

8 AP, 1898, p 741-742.

9 C. Bellanger et al., Histoire générale de la presse francaise, II, Paris, PUF, 1969, p 352.

10 P Thureau-Dangin, Histoire de la monarchie du juillet, Paris, Pion, 1888, p 575; C. Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life, New York, Phaidon, 1964, p 172; H. Heine, French Affairs, New York, Heinemann, 1893, p 142, 331. For extensive treatments of the “poire”, see D. Kerr, Caricature and French Political Culture, 1830-1848, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000; E. Kenney and J. Merriman, The Pear: French Graphic Arts in the Golden Age of Caricature, Mt Holyoke, MA: Mt Holyoke College Art Museum, 1991; Sandy Petrey, In the Court of the Pear King: French Culture and the Rise of Realism, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 2005; and A. Forbes, The Satiric Decade: Satire and the Rise of Republicanism in France, 1830-1840, New York, Lexington, 2010; F. Erre, Le Règne de la poire, Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 2011; L. O’Brien, The Republican Line: Caricature and French republican Identity, 1830-1852, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2015.

11 R. J. Goldstein, “André Gill and the Struggle Against Censorship of Caricature in France, 1867-1879,” Journalism History, number 21, 1995, p 143-144.

12 “Madame Anastasie” by André Gill, July 19, 1874 L’Éclipse. This is perhaps the single most famous caricature of Anastasie, the personification of the censorship (private collection).

13 O. Krakovitch, Les Pieces de théâtre soumises à la censure (1800-1830), Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 1982, p 14.

14 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré: la liberté au théâtre au XIXe siècle, Paris, Calmann-Levy, 1985, p 83. Krakovitch’s work is the best overall summary of nineteenth-century French theater censorship For an extended English-language summary, see R. J. Goldstein, “France,” in R. J. Goldstein (ed.), The Frightful Stage: Political Censorship of the Theater in Nineteenth-Century Europe, New York, Berghahn, 2009, p 70-129. For a summary of 19th-century French caricature censorship, see R. J. Goldstein, Political Censorship of Caricature in Nineteenth-Century France, Kent, OH, Kent State University Press, 1989. For a recent French book on the subject, see J.-M. Renault, Censure et caricatures: les images interdites et de combat de l’histoire de la presse en France et dans le monde, Paris, Pat a Pan, 2006. Comparable recent studies on theater and caricature censorship in other European countries, at least in English, are almost completely lacking, but for two extremely good exceptions to this rule, see G. Stark, Banned in Berlin: Literary Censorship in Imperial Germany, 1871-1918, New York, Berghahn, 2009; and D. King and C. Porter, Images of Revolution: Graphic Art from 1905 Russia, New York, Pantheon, 1983. For overall summaries of nineteenth-century European (including press) censorship, see R. J. Goldstein, Political Censorship of the Arts and the Press in Nineteenth-Century Europe, New York, MacMilllan, 1989, based primarily on English-language sources; and R. J. Goldstein (ed.), The War for the Public Mind: Political Censorship in Nineteenth Century Europe, Westport, CT, Praeger, 2000.

15 D. English, Political Uses of Photography in the Third French Republic, 1871-1914, Ann Arbor, MI, UMI, 1984, p 16.

16 AN F18 2342; JO, June 8, 1880, p 6212-6213.

17 J. House, “Manet’s Maximilian: Censorship and the Salon,” in E. Childs (ed.), Suspended License: Censorship and the Visual Arts, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1998, p 18.

18 O. Krakovitch, “Robert Macaire ou la Grande Peur des Censeurs,” Europe : Revue litteraire mensuelle, no 65, 1987, p 55-56 ; J.-M. Thomasseau, “Le Mélodrame et La Censure sous la Premier Empire et la Restauration,” Revue des sciences humaines, no 162, 1976, p 179 ; O. Krakovitch, Hugo, p 114, 131, 140.

19 C. Condemi, Les Cafés-Concerts, Paris, Quai Voltaire, 1992, p 39 ; E. Kimminich, “Chansons étouffées : Recherche sur le café-concert au XIXe siècle,” Politix, no 4, 1991, p 19-26.

20 A. Cahuet, Histoire, fonctionnement et discussion de la censure dramatique, Ulan Éditions, 2012 (1902), p 348; S. Slatin, “Opera and Revolution: Muette de Portici and the Belgian Revolution of 1830 Revisited,” Journal of Musicological Research, number 3, 1979, p 45-62; Hallays-Dabot, p 116.

21 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré, p 150, 244-245, 227, 286; A. Cahuet, Histoire, fonctionnement et discussion de la censure dramatique, op. cit., p 206, 217; J. Allen, In the Public Eye: A History of Reading in Modern France, Princeton, NJ, 1991, p 94; AN F18 2342, 2363.

22 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré, op. cit., p 15, 240; W. D. Howarth, Sublime and Grotesque: A Study of French Romantic Drama, London, Harraps, 1975, p 306; C. O’Neill, “Theatrical Censorship in France, 1844-1875: The Experience of Victor Sejour,” Harvard Library Bulletin, number 26, 1878, 434.

23 Although censorship of caricature was abolished for good in 1881, it remained for the theater until 1906. On December 14, 190l, Le Rire published a special issue solely devoted to attacking theater censorship, with Anastasie, the personification of the censorship, cutting the wings off an innocent cherub (private collection).

24 O. Krakovitch, Hugo censuré, op. cit., p 224, 248-249, 286-287 ; J. Parrain, “Censure, théâtre et Commune, 1871-1914,” Mouvement Social, no 79, 1972, p 327-342 ; R. J. Goldstein, Censorship, op. cit., p 5, 6, 12.

25 R. J. Goldstein, Censorship, p 11-12; E. Childs, “Big Trouble: Daumier, Gargantua, and the Censorship of Political Caricature,” Art Journal, number 51, 1992, p 26-37. See also E. Childs, “he Body Impolitic: Censorship and the Caricature of Honoré Daumier,” in E. Childs, Suspended licence, op. cit., p 148-185.

26 In this famous caricature, “Authentic Picture of Rocambole,” published in the November 17, 1867 La Lune, Andre Gill depicts Emperor Napoleon III as half bandit and half dandy as can be seen if a line is drawn vertically through the face. Although it slipped through the censorship, this caricature soon caused the suppression of La Lune (courtesy University of Connecticut library).

Table des illustrations

Légende Illustration 1.5
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Légende Illustration 2.6
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Légende Illustration 3.12
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Légende Illustration 4.23
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Légende Illustration 5.26
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Auteur

Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, and University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

© Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540