This article concentrates on French cultural history in the aftermath of the 1789 Revolution, the dismantling of the Old Regime’s private libraries that took place in the 1790s, and its effects on the nineteenth-century space of knowledge. Carefully tracing the process through which these libraries were “put in the hands of the Nation,” the article describes the immense difficulties the main actors involved in the dismantlement were faced with, as texts and documents had greatly deteriorated, were stolen, lost, or destroyed. At the same time, however, and throughout France, a tremendous number of the seized texts and documents were restored, cataloged, and sent to Paris. This body of written knowledge constitutes the collections and holdings that became available in the first public libraries that opened in France in the nineteenth century. From this standpoint, the dismantlement can be understood in terms of interplaying discontinuities, constancies, and transformations.


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pp. 255-273
Launched on MUSE
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