Caviar and Friendship: Sensational Trials and the Reinvention of Public Space

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Page: 52-70

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Evans, Nicola J
Caviar; Friendship; Sensational; Trials; Reinvention; Public; Space; Arts and Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences
article description
In the mid 1860s, Sydney was electrified by the trial of Louis Bertrand, a dentist accused of murder and adultery.1 As the press and citizenry furiously debated Bertrand’s guilt and motivations, a curious assortment of bigotry and superstition entered public discourse. Explanations for the dentist’s putative crime were sought in his ancestry, his gender and his reading habits. Thus Bertrand was rumoured (falsely) to be the son of a mixed marriage between a Jew and a Turk, to be an unmanly character prone to sentimentality and crossdressing and to have a deplorable taste for frivolous French fiction. He was, as the judge summed it up, ‘not a human being in feeling’.