Broken Glass, Broken World
Glass in French Culture in the Aftermath of 1870

Hannah Scott

Research Monographs in French Studies 46


19 December 2016  •  164pp

ISBN: 978-1-909662-87-2 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-781883-18-1 (paperback, 30 September 2018)  •  RRP £9.99, $13.50, €12.50

ISBN: 978-1-781883-19-8 (JSTOR ebook)

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In addition to its original library hardback edition, this title is now on sale in the new student-priced Legenda paperback range.

Crystal palaces and railway stations, greenhouses and arcades, church windows and shop frontages, wine glasses and lamp shades: from the monumental to the minuscule, glass became increasingly pervasive in nineteenth-century France. Yet as the bombshells and fires of the Année Terrible wreaked havoc upon Paris in 1870-71, this modern dreamland was harrowed by the sight and sound of shattering glass.

In this interdisciplinary study, Hannah Scott combines cultural history with close literary analyses of fictional works by three major authors from the period: Emile Zola’s Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), Guy de Maupassant’s Contes et nouvelles (1870-1891), and Joris-Karl Huysmans’s decadent masterpiece, À rebours (1884). She explores the distressing freight of meaning attached to glass for readers in the wake of the Année Terrible, before Symbolism and the Art Nouveau could purify the material world of its haunting past.

Hannah Scott is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.


  • ‘Perhaps due to glass’s ubiquity in the urban landscape, Parisians did not fully realize its fragile underpinning of Paris until Prussian bombing quite literally shattered glass’s transparency as urban phenomenon. It was through glass’s destruction that it became a privileged object manifesting the devastation of the année terrible for Parisians. Scott’s ingenuity lies in making glass visible, but especially in proposing broken glass as another ruin of Paris that both fascinated and disturbed contemporaries.’ — Colin Foss, H-France 18, March 2018, no. 53
  • ‘Scott’s incredible historical precision within a compact monograph has tremendous benefits to the field and raises even larger questions about the relationship between the Third Republic’s emphasis on glass and the social roles played by glass today, especially in the ecological arena. One wonders how the windowpanes, glass aquariums, and wine glasses of the post-industrial era gave way to the plastic wrapping and electronic screens that now serve as barriers between ourselves, the rest of humanity, and the planet as a whole.’ — Claire Nettleton, Nineteenth-Century French Studies 46.3-4, 2018
  • ‘This book is an outstanding contribution to an increasingly important field of study: the activating relationship between material culture and literary texts. Substantial and innovative chapters are devoted to Zola, Maupassant, and Huysmans, prefaced by a richly informative account of the proliferation of glass objects and structures, from the monumental to the miniscule, in nineteenth-century France.’ — Robert Lethbridge, French Studies 72.3, July 2018, 456-57
  • ‘This engaging and perceptive monograph is a significant contribution to the growing body of scholarship that resituates nineteenth-century literature within its material environment... A remarkably original work, one which is grounded in material research but which manages, nonetheless, to be rightly a work of primarily literary criticism.’ — Natasha Ryan, Modern Language Review 113.3, July 2018, 661-62 (full text online)


H. S.
Abbreviations and Translations
Hannah Scott
Introduction: Why Glass?
Hannah Scott
Chapter 1 Glass and Culture in the Aftermath of the Année Terrible
Hannah Scott
Chapter 2 Shopping For Harmony: Glass, Sound, and the Exhibition Effect in Zola’s Au Bonheur Des Dames
Hannah Scott
Chapter 3 Breakdowns and Breaking Glass: Glass and Identity Crises in Maupassant’s Short Stories
Hannah Scott
Chapter 4 the Ideal Naturalist? Glass, Popular Culture, and Naturalism in Huysmans’s À Rebours
Hannah Scott
Hannah Scott
Hannah Scott

Bibliography entry:

Scott, Hannah, Broken Glass, Broken World: Glass in French Culture in the Aftermath of 1870, Research Monographs in French Studies, 46 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2016)

First footnote reference: 35 Hannah Scott, Broken Glass, Broken World: Glass in French Culture in the Aftermath of 1870, Research Monographs in French Studies, 46 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2016), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Scott, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Scott, Hannah. 2016. Broken Glass, Broken World: Glass in French Culture in the Aftermath of 1870, Research Monographs in French Studies, 46 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Scott 2016: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Scott 2016: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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