05 March 2016

How the French think #5

More on Sudhir Hazareesingh's How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People (Amazon link here).

On writing, etc. (my bold)  #2:

  • Michelet carried the literary quality of French history to new heights (p269)
  • the Annales movement again typified the capacity for innovation in French thought — and its yearning for universality (p272)
  • showing the impressive breadth of his metaphorical repertoire, de Gaulle (p278)
  • The anomic sentiment soon spread to the historical profession: ground down by the sheer weight (and incoherence) of its ambitions, and punctuated by the sharp attacks against its scientistic pretensions, the remnants of the Annales school readily acknowledged their 'disorientation' (p279)

Words, terms and expressions used in italics #2

roman national (p269); his (de Gaulle's) certaine idée de la France (p276); la France éternelle (p276); guerres franco-françaises (p281); Cartesianism oblige (p281); je ne sais quoi (p281); Nora's oeuvre (p281); devoir de mémoire (p282); lois mémorielles (p282); mal de vivre (p287); 'convulsionary immobilism' (immobilisme convulsionnaire) (p293);

Noted in passing #2

  • Emmanual Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou (1975), a captivating study of a village in the Ariège in the Middle Ages. (p274)
  • Marianne, the allegorical representation of the Republic (p280)
  • Pierre Nora's ... seven-volume Les lieux de mémoire reshaped the French historical landscape in the 1980s and early '90s. (p280)
  • The notion of lieu de mémoire has become widespread in France, not only among historians, but also as a way of highlighting and celebrating the nation's patrimonial heritage (p282)
  • intellectually cohesive coteries (p284)
  • teleological history (p284)
  • This intellectual connivance between historical and political elites also partly explains the passion of French political figures for publishing historical works under their names ... (p285)
  • But this Gallocentricity also shines through in something more fundamental, and arguably distinctly French: the idea that the past is a key ingredient in forging a sense of collective identity. (p285)
  • mal de vivre — an untranslatable expression — ... an essential component of modernity, since 'the progress of thought is inseperable from the development of despair'. (p287)
  • Peter Mayle (p288)
  • Michel Houellebecq's dystopic novel La Carte et ke territoire (p288)
  • Ciorian argued that the French spirit was essentially provincial and hedonistic, and (through Descartes' influence) turned towards 'narrow perfectionism' — a preference for stylistic elegance and formal clarity over philosophical profundity (p292)
  • Alain Peyrefitte's pessimism ... historical framework ... 1976 ... Le Mal français ... French 'ungovernability'
  • Peyrefitte followed tocqueville in regarding French over-centralization as a product of the absolute monarchy, later reinforced by the Revolution and successive  republics. (p292)
  • the Colbertian tradition of stateinterventionism (p293)

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