The Invisible Code: Honor and Sentiment in Postrevolutionary France, 1814-1848

William M. Reddy

Starting from the premise that private feeling cannot be contained or eliminated from public deliberation or action, William M. Reddy embarks on a fascinating inquiry into the influence of honor on behavior in nineteenth-century France. He discovers that French society was governed by a strict code of honor and that males in particular were vulnerable to acute feelings of shame, while any other feelings—referred to as "sentiment"—were considered the special domain of women. Examining the realms of both marriage and the public sphere, Reddy uncovers the feelings of shame and self-esteem, fear and desire, that entered in an unperceived yet fundamental way into the sense of self that many elite men and women worked out in the course of their lives.

Reddy draws from archival documents spanning the disparate realms of marriage, bureaucracy, education, the fledgling profession of journalism, and literature from 1814 to 1848. Inspired by the research of women's studies and the history of gender, he explores the relationship between gender and emotion, and reveals the threads that held the social order together and gave coherence to peoples' lives and identities.