La résonance sociale et culturelle du métier d'écrivain public à Paris sous l'Ancien Régime


  • Christine Métayer


In 17th- and 18th- century Parisian society, public writers lived by their ability to write. They existed in a society which, although pervaded by the written word, nonetheless included a large number of illiterates, born primarily into the proletarian classes, for whom the many uses of writing were also a necessity. At the heart of the working-class neighbourhoods of Paris, the Saint-Innocents cemetary and the illustrious "cemetary writers" give us an insight into the public practice of writing: a trade without status, unassociated with a specific socio-professional condition, and practised by scribes of various types - confidants of lonely hearts, champions of the people, clerks, forgers and rogues. These roles directly affected the divided opinions on the public scribe expressed in travelogues and picturesque or literary descriptions of old Paris, but especially evident on the public stage where the scribe evolved in relation to the world around him. There, under the scrutiny of its contemporaries, public writing achieved its full social resonance, between the needs of proletarian circles and rejection by authorities.