We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Playing at Monarchy

Sport as Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century France

Corry Cropper

Publication Year: 2008

For centuries sports have been used to mask or to uncover important social and political problems, and there is no better example of this than France during the nineteenth century, when it changed from monarchy to empire to republic. Prior to the French Revolution, sports and games were the exclusive domain of the nobility. The revolution, however, challenged the notion of noble privilege, and leisure activities began spreading to all levels of society. Games either evolved from Old Regime spectacles into bourgeois pastimes, such as hunting, or died out altogether, as did trictrac. During this period, sports and games became the symbolic cultural battlefield of an emerging modern state.

Playing at Monarchy looks at the ways sports and games (tennis, fencing, bullfighting, chess, trictrac, hunting, and the Olympics) are metaphorically used to defend and subvert, to praise and mock both class and political power structures in nineteenth-century France. Corry Cropper examines what shaped these games of the nineteenth-century and how they appeared as allegory in French literature (in the fiction of Balzac, Mérimée, and Flaubert), and in newspapers, historical studies, and even game manuals. Throughout, he shows how the representation of play in all types of literature mirrors the most important social and political rifts in postrevolutionary France, while also serving as propaganda for competing political agendas. Though its focus is on France, Playing at Monarchy hints at the way these nineteenth-century developments inform perceptions of sport even today.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.2 KB)
pp. v


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.4 KB)
pp. vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (44.6 KB)
pp. vii-x

"I owe the original idea for this book to friends in my racquetball group. After getting yet another bruise in the back from an errant ball, I decided it would be better for me to spend more time researching sports than actually playing them. The bruises also..."

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (87.8 KB)
pp. xi-xxiv

"In Marie de France's twelfth-century poem 'Les deux amants,' a king, after the death of his queen, engages in what appears to be an incestuous relationship with his only daughter and refuses to allow her to marry. In order to keep his daughter for himself and..."

read more

1. Paume Anyone?

pdf iconDownload PDF (157.9 KB)
pp. 1-22

"For centuries le jeu de paume (known as 'real tennis' in Britain), a precursor to our modern-day tennis, was the exclusive cultural and social property of France's nobility. The title of Yves Carlier's catalog written to accompany a jeu de paume museum exhibit in..."

read more

2. The Spanish Bullfight in France

pdf iconDownload PDF (279.6 KB)
pp. 23-44

"Following the Spanish War of Independence (fought against French imperial troops from 1808 until 1814), Francisco Goya moved from Spain to France, where he lived for some four years prior to his death. While in Bordeaux he added to his artistic output..."

read more

3. Trictrac and Chess as Models of Historical Discourse

pdf iconDownload PDF (331.7 KB)
pp. 45-84

"In his Essai sur les fondements de la connaissance (Essay on the Foundations of our Knowledge) (1851) Antoine Augustin Cournot posits that history can best be seen as a game and historical events as moves in that game. The unfolding of history, in other words,..."

read more

4. Of Rabbits and Kings

pdf iconDownload PDF (182.1 KB)
pp. 85-118

"In a pamphlet published six weeks after the July Revolution of 1830, a subject of the former monarch, Charles X, outlines numerous blunders made by the king—blunders that eventually led to the king's ouster. The pamphlet criticizes Charles X for appointing..."

read more

5. Fencing and Aristocratic Resistance during the Third Republic

pdf iconDownload PDF (282.4 KB)
pp. 119-154

"I claim in this chapter's title that I will discuss fencing, and I will. Primarily, however, this chapter will focus on duels. If my title appears misleading, this puts me in good company. Many nineteenth-century fencing manuals..."

read more

6. Olympic Restoration

pdf iconDownload PDF (145.5 KB)
pp. 155-180

"It has become commonplace to state that the Olympic games of recent memory reflect the tensions of a global society. The exclusion of athletes who protested against racial discrimination during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico refl ected a global movement..."

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (65.4 KB)
pp. 181-188

"In his essay on leisure Theodor Adorno argues that free time is in reality very serious business: 'Free time . . . does not . . . stand in opposition to labour. In a system where full employment itself has become the ideal, free time is nothing more than a shadowy continuation..."


pdf iconDownload PDF (175.6 KB)
pp. 189-222


pdf iconDownload PDF (90.1 KB)
pp. 223-234


pdf iconDownload PDF (126.4 KB)
pp. 235-247

E-ISBN-13: 9780803218994
E-ISBN-10: 0803218990

Illustrations: 6 illustrations
Publication Year: 2008