An important feature of the French Revolution was the role of social salons and journals. The salons of the social elite provided venues to discuss social and political issues, fashion, and literature. They were gatherings of writers, philosophes, musicians, and artists, as well as members of the court and the clergy, and held in the homes of hostesses with some social finesse and financial means.46

Among the salons, usually hosted by upper class women, there were subtle rivalries. Salons reflected the social and political opinions of their members, so naturally there were differences among them. The salons provided the aristocrats opportunities to speak and interact with writers, philosophers, and artists who would normally reside in separate social circles. “Madame du Deffard greatly admired Voltaire, whom she succeeded in attracting to her salon for many years. Twice a week Mme Geoffrin invited different guests: on Monday a salon of artists, architects, and sculptors, on Wednesday a salon of men of letters- Diderot, Alembert, Marivaux, Marmontel, abbé Reynal, Saint-Lambert, Holbach, and the comte de Caylus.”47

Topics varied widely, as shown by the differences in those invited to the salons. However, Pre-revolution, national ideals became a prominent topic and were promoted among intellectuals. They were the first to encourage the new public literary sphere that developed throughout the eighteenth century that was separate from the court.48

Though the salons in no sense planned the Revolution, their analytical spirit and freedom from all sense of responsibility allowed the participants to imagine how things might be if circumstances could be altered. In sapping respect for established authorities and diminishing resignation, in bending the will of the administration to favor them, they corrupted the integrity of officialdom; that is, they compromised their loyalty to the regime and helped destroy it from above.49