Tuesday, May 19, 2009

historical context.

The novel is set after the death of Louis the XIV, in the eighteenth century, approximately, from 1735-1755. 1742 is taken as a reliable date as Madame Gaillard suffered her death 40 years after Grenouille left, in 1782. Grenouille was approximately seven years of age. He also died roughly when he was 20, thus the time span.

France of the 18th century was slightly smaller than the modern borders. One must notice that Perfume is based before the advent of the French revolution. The novel, as shown my the unfortunate instance of Madame Gaillard's death, was based around the start of the downfall of the French feudal system. Liberalism is creeping into to ideals of people, and socially, France is becoming more skeptical.

The time is also based after the 72 year reign of King Louis the XIV. His ideology of the divine right of kings and obsession with warfare led both the economy and social status in tatters, as he held absolute control, and his aristocrat class, in short, was incompetent. For Example, early 18th century saw a famine killing 2 million people. Culturally, however, France was chic. Its art, literature, furniture and perfume for that matter was fashionable throughout Europe. 

In 1744, France declared war on the English, and plan to invade. Their plan, however, failed as bad weather destroyed the fleet. They diverted their resources, and troops, to invade modern day netherlands, and the campaign was succesful, as they defeated a combined British, Dutch, Austrian and Hanoverian troops. The marshall complemented with this victory was Saxe.

Due to the French aggression, the Brits used their navy to harrass the French in the vicinity of India and West Indies. The casualties were high for France, and a huge percentage of trade revenue was lost in the region.

It seemed that the French government had their priorities towards war and not developing socially. The society however developed an anti government sentiment, and thus the dawn of the revolution came.

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