Historical Givens

Margarita: ART
-During the late 19th century impressionist art was very popular. Impressionist art included visible brush strokes, emphasis on ordinary objects, movement, and unusual visual angles. French art underwent an artistic revolution, it included an exploration of the forthright nude and radical paintings techniques; which differed from its lighter pastel colors and paintings of historical figures that were prominent in the early 19th century. Literature also underwent the same change, Paul Verlaine was one of the first poets in the early 1900's to include themes such as sex, prostitutes, the city, delirium, dreams, drugs, and alcohol.
Katherine: MUSIC
-During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in France one of the most prominent composers was Claude Debussy. This was the “romantic period” of classical music, and most of the French composers were writing symphonic music. Other well known composers of the time were: Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie, Jacques Ibert, Gabriel Pierné. The French did also have a taste for Opera, with George Bizet’s opera “Carmen” in 1875-, which blended romanticism with realism, and as audiences learned to accept this blend, it became one of the most popular opera’s of the time.
-The birth of modernism in the late 19th century and early 20th century brought about “cabarets” and “saloons”, and the rise of nightclub singing. The combination of the romanticism of the time as well as the new modernism led to a very vibrant culture.
Some music examples… (the first is what was probably one of the most popular songs of the time by Claude Debussy, the second is Carmen)
Historical Givens (Transportation)
With the invention of the electric tramway in 1888, most people abandoned the horse drawn carriage system and steam tramway. The metro was not established until July of 1900. For the lower/working classes, biking was the most common means of transport.

By law, every child between the ages of 6 and 13 MUST attend formal schooling, provided by the government. Children of means may have private schooling if they so choose. 95% of the population in france can read by 1900. Secondary schooling was the only way to get to university, both of which were a privilege that only the upper classes could afford. Schools sought to teach students to be hard-working, dedicated, loyal to their nation and aware of their station in the social world, where they must stay. The upper classes received a classical education, studying latin and other subjects ill-suited for the real world, but which groomed and developed the individual.

Men would normally be found wearing a jacket, waistcoat, necktie or ascot, and pants (pleated, with cuffs). Often this resulted in a three piece suit. The most formal evening dress remained a dark tail coat and trousers with a dark or light waistcoat. Evening wear was worn with a white bow tie and a shirt with a winged collar. The less formal dinner jacket or tuxedo, which featured a shawl collar with silk or satin facings, now generally had a single button. Dinner jackets were appropriate formal wear when "dressing for dinner" at home or at a men's club.
The blazer, a navy blue or brightly-colored or striped flannel coat was worn for sports, sailing, and other casual activities.
Hats: Top hats remained a requirement for upper class formal wear; soft felt Homburgs or stiff bowler hats were worn with lounge or sack suits, and flat straw boaters were worn for casual occasions.
Changing attitudes about acceptable activities for women also made sportswear popular for women, with such notable examples as the bicycling dress and the tennis dress. Unfussy, tailored clothes were worn for outdoor activities and traveling. The shirtwaist, a costume with a bodice or waist tailored like a man's shirt with a high collar, was adopted for informal daywear and became the uniform of working women. Walking suits featured ankle-length skirts with matching jackets. This included ample skirts with a belted blouse for hockey. In addition, cycling became very popular and led to the development of "cycling costumes", which were shorter skirts or "bloomers" which were Turkish trouser style outfits. By the 1890s, women bicyclists increasingly wore bloomers in public and in the company of men as well as other women.
1900s: The new styles featured form-fitting gowns with high or indefined waists, or ankle-length skirts and long tunic-like jackets, and required a different "straight line" corset. The Paris correspondent for Vogue described this new look as "straighter and straighter … less bust, less hips, and more waist…how slim, how graceful, how elegant…!"
In 1890, behavior was dictated by very strict manners emphasizing civility and courtesy, often to an extreme level. Women were “the morality of the world” and men were “ones who never inflict pain”. For men, a majority of the rules had to do with their behavior towards women. They were expect to rise whenever a woman stood, escort her and converse with her during a meal, and generally make sure she never had to exert herself for anything. Women in turn were expected to accept all help graciously, to always be pleasant and modest, and reply with a smile. All civility however had a limit which corresponded with your level of acquaintance with the person.
- One should never touch the host's piano unless invited to do so!
- Gentlemen should never, ever sit next to their hostess on the sofa, unless invited to do so.
- The host leads the guests into dine with the senior lady (in age or social standing) on his left arm. All other gentlemen follow with a compatible lady on their left arms. The hostess takes the left arm of the senior male guest and enters last
- Gentlemen seat the lady they are escorting to their left. All gentlemen remain standing until all ladies are seated
- Be punctual for all dinner engagements. Food may not be served before all guests are seated
- The gentlemen are to tend to the needs of the lady on their left, as well as make agreeable conversation with ladies to either side and across the table (size of table permitting)
- Conversation should never be allowed to become anything more than chit-chat; deep and abstruse conversations were thought to impair digestion.
- A lady never serves herself from a buffet line. She informs her dinner partner of her wishes and he brings her plate to her
- Do not gesture with a knife or fork in your hand
- Do not gorge yourself excessively during any one course. Never ask for seconds as all other diners must wait until you are finished before being served the next course
- NEVER talk with your mouth full
- A lady should never speak in a loud or coarse voice
- Men should never curse or discuss “impolite” subjects in the company of women
- One should never appear to notice someone else's mistakes in grammar.
- One should never speak of private, personal or family matters in a group.
- Never make reference to the fact that you may be from a notable family.
- Wear gloves on the street, in church & other formal occasions, except when eating or drinking (White or cream colored gloves for evening, gray or other darker colors for day wear)
- Stand up when a lady enters a room or when a lady stands
- Retrieve dropped items for a lady
- Open doors for a lady
- Offer your arm to escort a lady (with whom you are acquainted) into or out of a building or a room at all social events, and whenever walking on uneven ground
- Remove your hat when entering a building, or for a lady when she greets you in public (Merely touching the brim or a slight "tip" of the hat was very rude)
- Greet a lady in public unless she acknowledges you first
- Graciously accept gentlemanly offers of assistance
- Wear gloves on the street, at church & other formal occasions, except when eating or drinking
- Grab your hoops or lift your skirts higher than is absolutely necessary to go up stairs
- Lift your skirts up onto a chair or stool, etc.
- Sit with your legs crossed (except at the ankles if necessary for comfort or habit)
Direct from Thomas E. Hill’s Manual for Social and Business Forms (a popular etiquette book of the time):
Never point at another.
Never neglect to call upon your friends.
Never laugh at the misfortunes of others.
Never speak much of your own performances.
Never fail to be punctual at the time appointed.
Never fail to give a polite answer to a civil question.
Never look over the shoulder of another who is reading or writing.
Never arrest the attention of an acquaintance by touch. Speak to him.
Never answer questions in general company that have been put to others.
Never, when traveling abroad, be over boastful in praise of your own country.
Never attempt to draw the attention of the company constantly upon yourself.
Never exhibit anger, impatience or excitement, when an accident happens.
Never pass between two persons who are talking together, without an apology.
Never enter a room noisily; never fail to close the door after you, and never slam it.
Never will a gentleman allude to conquests which he may have made with ladies.
Never enter a room filled with people, without a slight bow to the general company when first entering.
Never refuse to receive an apology. You may not receive friendship, but courtesy will require, when an apology is offered, that you accept it.
Never examine the cards in the card-basket. While they may be exposed in the drawing room, you are not expected to turn them over unless invited to do so.
Never attempt to convey the impression that you are a genius, by imitating the faults of distinguished men. Because certain great men were poor penmen, wore long hair, or had other peculiarities, it does not follow that you will be great by imitating their eccentricities.
Never give all your pleasant words and smile to strangers. The kindest words and the sweetest smiles should be reserved for home.

-The play takes place (1890) during the Third Republic of France, the period between the rule of Napolean III and the German invasion in 1940. A Government of National Defense was set up in 1871 to replace Napolean III's regime. Adolphe Thiers was elected the president of the provisional conservative government. The 1890s was a time of some political turmoil in France, with multiple shifts in who was in charge. There was also the scandal of the Dreyfus affair in 1894, when a French Jewish Captain of the charged with selling secrets to the Germans and arrested. It was later found that the evidence to support his arrest had been fabricated, and the political turmoil ignited some opposing opinions about race. However it was a time when republicanism was supported by the people of France, and the ideas of Rousseau and Montesquieu were reignited from a century earlier. What more do you guys want to know?
Charles: The underlying theme of French food is innovation. Whether that means the innovation of margarine when butter supplies ran short or finding a way to save the wine supply from phyloxera. French food bears a grandiose reputation as being brilliant and delicious. Around 1890 it was truly coming to the apex of its prime.

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