This entry deals with female travel narratives to the Continent, with a focus on those written during the revolutionary decade (1789-1800). It aims to show how sociability – sociable practices, culture, values – was a key topic for understanding the Continental other (its character, manners and mores) but also a rhetorical mode of writing one’s self in relation to the other.
England held a special allure for French readers. This attraction is evident in the titles Marie-Jeanne Riccoboni gave to her novels as much as in the names of her characters. Her correspondence with David Garrick and Robert Liston also reveals the fundamental role sociability played in both the circulation of theatrical works between the two countries and in the evolution of eighteenth-century theatrical creation.
Many Romantic poets and thinkers kept notebooks to jot down miscellaneous entries ranging from minute observations of natural objects, fragments of lectures or poems to records of dreams and nightmares, or metaphysical reflections.
In the eighteenth-century, reading was often regarded as a collective activity of social significance. In many ways, the diversity of reading practices led to collective, sociable enterprises and generated lively exchanges between readers. This private, domestic practice also developed into public, scientific readings, at a time when the organization of society as a whole relied more and more on rising levels of literacy.