'Un Artiste en matière de chiffons': The Rag-Picker as a Figure for the Artist in Champfleury's La Mascarade de la vie parisienne

The representation of Topino – in Champfleury’s 1859 novel, La Mascarade de la vie parisienne – as a figure for the realist writer is one of a number of representations of the rag-picker in the literature of the July Monarchy and Second Empire that encode æsthetic concerns. Reading Champfleury’s text alongside Berthaud’s sketch of the chiffonnier in Les Français peints par eux-mêmes (1841) and Baudelaire’s celebrated references to the rag-picker enables us to map the emergence of a conception of the literary process as one that far from enabling an imaginative transcendence of the material realm remains bound to that realm. (EMB)

Bielecki, Emma M.
Volume 2009 Spring-Summer; 37(3-4): 262-75.