While Louis XVIII, Charles X, and Louis Philippe ruled in France, a vast majority of politically unenfranchised Frenchmen were developing their own subculture. Only recently literate, they fashioned their own literature. It consisted of two important genres: the popular novel and the melodrama. As we trace these genres from the turn of the nineteenth century until that moment of February 25, 1848, when the Second Republic was declared, we are also led to a detailed scrutiny of the injustices which the immense majority of the French suffered and of the political causes they espoused. The succession of heroes and villains in their literature mirrored accurately the fears and hopes they felt.
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