This article examines depictions of Lola Montez, a self-professed Spanish dancer whose relationship with the Bavarian king Ludwig I contributed to his abdication during the Revolutions of 1848-49. First, it examines the ways in which pamphlets and the press helped transform the Montez affair into a cause célèbre that hastened revolutionary unrest in Bavaria. Next, it analyzes satirical libels that focused on Montez’s political power, sexual libertinism, and foreign identity. Finally, it examines the ways in which Montez responded to her critics in letters and autobiographical projects by fashioning herself simultaneously as an innocent victim of political Catholicism and as an emancipated woman who challenged social expectations. These divergent depictions of Montez provide a rare window into the burgeoning celebrity culture of the middle decades of the nineteenth century.
Karin Breuer, History, published “’My Name is Maria Dolores Porris Montez’: Self-Fashioning, Print Culture, and Revolution in Bavaria and Beyond” in Nineteenth Century Studies.
By Jonathan Ablard, September 15, 2021