Gustave Flaubert searched with exhaustive care for evidence, documents and testimony to authenticate the account of France’s social classe and the political uproar through the revolution of 1848 that was expressed in his highly influencial novel “Sentimental Education” in unrivalled manner. His description of daily live sounds is particularly evocative, here is what his protagonist Frederic Moreau hears one morning strolling the streets of Paris:

“For two hours nothing could be heard but the heavy rolling of carts making their way to the markets. The window-panes began to admit streaks of white. A cab passed; then a group of donkeys trotted over the pavement. Then came strokes of hammers, cries of itinerant vendors of wood and blasts of horns. Already every other sound was blended with the great voice of awakening Paris.”

During the fighting of the June days of 1848 the noises of guns and cannons must have been alternating with moments of silence and tension as he recalls in the passage:

“Occasionally an express rider passed at a rapid gallop; then the silence was renewed. Cannons, which were being drawn along the streets, made, on the pavement, a heavy rolling sound that seemed full of menace – a sound different from every ordinary sound – which oppressed the heart. These interruptions served to intensify the silence, which was profound, unlimited – a black abyss.”