The Bourgeoisie of the Restoration
The Restoration provides the focal point of Le Monde de Balzac historical investigation, and in his analysis the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy claim equal attention. Balzac’s account of the bourgeoisie of the Restoration is comprehensive in scope; the range of bourgeois categories is vast and representative, with considerable evidence of both the Parisian and the provincial middle class. Balzac is normally scrupulous in pinpointing the social origins of his Restoration bourgeoisie. The section of the revolutionary bourgeoisie from which most of Balzac’s Restoration bourgeois is drawn is that of the ‘petits commerçants’. One can discern in the Comedie humaine a simultaneous trend whereby important sections of the Restoration bourgeoisie strive to achieve some degree of assimilation with the aristocracy. The Comedie humaine demonstrates the growing challenge made by the Restoration bourgeoisie to the important vestiges of aristocratic power. Balzac’s attitude to the bourgeoisie of the Restoration provides an important clue to his social and political thinking.