@arniszerga replied to your post “Also a missing piece: it really seems like Jones didn’t know about the…”
Not sure what your “?” is in reference to, here, so apologies if I don’t answer the right question, but I’m taking a stab at it!
Nerval’s Les Faux Salniers/ The Salt Smugglers was largely a response to the Riancey Amendment of 1850, a law that put a per-copy stamp tax on any newspaper that carried a serialized novel, or feuilleton. This wasn’t just a plan to do a quick tax revenue boost off the then very-popular format, it was an attempt to make newspapers stop publishing serialized novels, which were seen as dangerously exciting and worryingly political and, of course, accessible to the scary scary masses. (In an immediate sense, Eugéne Sue’s Mysteries of Paris had been blamed by the government as contributing to the worker’s uprising in 1848.)
So The Salt Smugglers, as written, is absolutely (very angry) satire about the current regime, framed as Nerval’s adventures in search of a historical account of a certain Abbé, because of course he can’t write a novel oh goodness no. It’s loaded with digs at Napoleon III and the current and increasing police state, commentary about censorship in the press and theaters, etc.
But it’s not a novel!:D Hey censors, did you see that??? NOT A NOVEL, NEENER NEENER.
It’s also not very easy to get in its full original form! After its initial publication, it was edited and republished in a different form– basically becoming Angelique–and that’s the version that’s the easiest to find. I’m not sure the full original set of articles is available in one volume in French even now , and the only version in English is Richard Sieburth’s translation (which is excellent and has the sort of footnotes I wish were in every historical work, anyone at all interested should check it out.)
Anyway, obviously an interpretation of a text is gonna be very different if your only access is to a version that’s been massively altered into a different text for a market years later! So that’s what I referring to in the original post there.