Cholera w Paryżu w 1832 r. i jej rewolucyjna (anty)kontekstualność

Anna Łysiak-Łątkowska


Cholera in Paris in 1832 and its revolutionary (anti-)context

Experience of the real threat to public health constituted by the cholera epidemic of 1832 in Paris is presented in this article in terms of its revolutionary import and significance. Among these, the following should be noted: the concept of an internal and external enemy, which, as many thought, led to the appearance of the disease; the significance of rumour, which contributed to violent events and disturbances; casting suspicion on persons who were seen as suspect poisoners; the collective dimension of death as a result of infection; and the general inspection of the dead and the printed lists of their names Events that shocked public opinion and dramatic images meant, on one hand, a calling up and contemporary realization of revolutionary imaginings.

However, the essence of experience and post-revolutionary consciousness was concentrated on unwanted consequences: violence, disarray, chaos, and destruction. As a result, there was a reluctance to make a direct comparison between the cholera epidemic and various aspects of it to revolutionary events. Metaphors of and comparisons to the Jacobin terror were not supposed to encourage a repetition of this but rather to reflect the scale of horror felt at the appearance of cholera and its extent.

At the same, one must note that alongside revolutionary echoes, there emerged a modern perspective resulting from an awareness of the consequences for urban life of the existence of great social differences. Harmful and unhealthy living conditions, especially in Parisian districts where there was want and poverty, produced hot-beds of cholera. There was a realization of the necessity of improving sanitation and hygiene, introducing city cleaning, building water and sewage systems, all of which marked the beginning of the re-building of Paris.

In the press, memoirs, diaries, medical printed material and brochures, and in literature, there is a reflection of the variety of imaginings linked to the past and tradition of revolutionary Paris in the face of the appearance of cholera. Revolutions, with their myths, rituals, symbolism, and their ludic and carnivalesque elements, became a distinctive matrix, sometimes inverted, through which interpretations and definitions were offered of what animated the inhabitants of Paris. There is no doubt that the 1832 cholera epidemic became one of those experiences.

Słowa kluczowe: Paryż, cholera, rewolucja

Redakcja deklaruje, że wersja papierowa czasopisma naukowego "Studia
Historica Gedanensia" jest wersją pierwotną.