Item Details

In the Red and in the Black: Debt, Dishonor, and the Law in France Between Revolutions

Erika Vause
Format
Book
Published
Charlottesville ; London : University of Virginia Press, 2018.
Language
English
ISBN
9780813941417, 0813941415, 9780813941424 (ebook)
Summary
The France of Balzac's day was an unforgiving place for borrowers. Each year, thousands of debtors found themselves arrested for commercial debts. Those who wished to escape debt imprisonment through bankruptcy sacrificed their honor-losing, among other rights and privileges, the ability to vote, to serve on a jury, or even to enter the stock market. Arguing that French Revolutionary and Napoleonic legislation created a conception of commercial identity that tied together the debtor's social, moral, and physical person, In the Red and in the Black examines the history of debt imprisonment and bankruptcy as a means of understanding the changing logic of commercial debt. Following the practical application of these laws throughout the early nineteenth century, Erika Vause traces how financial failure and fraud became legally disentangled. The idea of personhood established in the Revolution's aftermath unraveled over the course of the century owing to a growing penal ideology that stressed the state's virtual monopoly over incarceration and to investors' desire to insure their financial risks. This meticulously researched study offers a novel conceptualization of how central "the economic" was to new understandings of self, state, and the market. Telling a story deeply resonant in our own age of ambivalence about the innocence of failures by financial institutions and large-scale speculators, Vause reveals how legal personalization and depersonalization of debt was essential for unleashing the latent forces of capitalism itself.
Contents
  • Introduction
  • Pt. 1. A revolution in commercial personhood: Hard contracts and hard money: honor, commerce, and Debtor's Prison during the French Revolution. The blessing of being judged: bankruptcy and the Napoleonic Codes
  • Pt. 2. The paradoxes of failure: Risky business: banqueroute, faillite, and the culture of credit. A palace of debt: constructing the Debtors' Prison. The economy of discredit: Jean-Baptiste Bayle-Mouillard and the crusade against debt Imprisonment
  • Pt. 3. Remaking commercial personhood: Bankruptcies without bankrupts: commercial personhood in an age of speculation. A discount on the future: 1848 and the remaking of financial responsibility
  • Epilogue.
Description
ix, 324 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Notes
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Local Notes
SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: HV8651 .F8 V32 2018: Original red cloth; dust jacket. Gift of the University of Virginia Press, December 2018.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic

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    a| Introduction -- Pt. 1. A revolution in commercial personhood: Hard contracts and hard money: honor, commerce, and Debtor's Prison during the French Revolution. The blessing of being judged: bankruptcy and the Napoleonic Codes -- Pt. 2. The paradoxes of failure: Risky business: banqueroute, faillite, and the culture of credit. A palace of debt: constructing the Debtors' Prison. The economy of discredit: Jean-Baptiste Bayle-Mouillard and the crusade against debt Imprisonment -- Pt. 3. Remaking commercial personhood: Bankruptcies without bankrupts: commercial personhood in an age of speculation. A discount on the future: 1848 and the remaking of financial responsibility -- Epilogue.
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    a| The France of Balzac's day was an unforgiving place for borrowers. Each year, thousands of debtors found themselves arrested for commercial debts. Those who wished to escape debt imprisonment through bankruptcy sacrificed their honor-losing, among other rights and privileges, the ability to vote, to serve on a jury, or even to enter the stock market. Arguing that French Revolutionary and Napoleonic legislation created a conception of commercial identity that tied together the debtor's social, moral, and physical person, In the Red and in the Black examines the history of debt imprisonment and bankruptcy as a means of understanding the changing logic of commercial debt. Following the practical application of these laws throughout the early nineteenth century, Erika Vause traces how financial failure and fraud became legally disentangled. The idea of personhood established in the Revolution's aftermath unraveled over the course of the century owing to a growing penal ideology that stressed the state's virtual monopoly over incarceration and to investors' desire to insure their financial risks. This meticulously researched study offers a novel conceptualization of how central "the economic" was to new understandings of self, state, and the market. Telling a story deeply resonant in our own age of ambivalence about the innocence of failures by financial institutions and large-scale speculators, Vause reveals how legal personalization and depersonalization of debt was essential for unleashing the latent forces of capitalism itself.
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