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Rethinking France: Les Lieux de mémoire, Volume 3: Legacies 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0226591346
ISBN-10: 0226591344
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Review

"This third volume in Nora's Rethinking France series continues the high standards of his previous explorations of the internal essences and external expressions of France's distinctive culture."
(Choice)

From the Inside Flap

"Les Lieux de memoire" is perhaps one of the most profound historical documents on the history and culture of the French nation. Assembled by Pierre Nora during the Mitterand years, this multivolume series has been hailed as a "magnificent achievement" ("New Republic") and "the grandest, most ambitious effort to dissect, interpret and celebrate the French fascination with their own past" ("Los Angeles Times"). Written during a time when French national identity was undergoing a pivotal change and the nation was struggling to define itself, this unprecedented series consists of essays by prominent historians and cultural commentators which take, as their points of departure, a lieu de memoire: a site of memory used to order, concentrate, and secure notions of France's past.
The first volume in the Chicago translation, "Rethinking France," brings together works addressing the omnipresent role of the state in French life. As in the other volumes, the "lieux de memoire" serve as entries into the French past, whether they are actual sites, political traditions, rituals, or even national pastimes and textbooks. "Volume I: The State" offers a sophisticated and engaging view of the French and their past through widely diverse essays on, for example, the chateau of Versailles and the French history of absolutism; the "Code civil" and its ordering of French life; memoirs written by French statesmen; and Charlemagne and his place in French history. Nora's contributors constitute a who's who of French academia, yet they wear their erudition lightly. Taken as a whole, this extraordinary series documents how the French have come to see themselves and why.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (August 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226591344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226591346
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,749,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ray TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 5, 2015
This acclaimed work of the 1980's and 1990's, which took over a decade to assemble and is composed of contributions by scores of expert authors, sets out to describe how the French people have "constructed" their history through symbols, allusions, and associations, and then have subsequently shifted that constructed memory into the modern public consciousness. The series, which took up seven volumes in the original French, has been routinely described as "monumental," and there can be little doubt that this description is completely correct due to its size, scope, and coverage. But it is not just its size and scope that make the work "monumental." This is a set that is also superbly written by authors who have uniquely and expert knowledge of the subject matter, and the choice of topics, and the depth into which each is examined, easily makes this a de-facto standard work for anyone today wishing to have a true understanding of how the French themselves define what it means to be "French." It is certainly Pierre Nora's magnum opus, and if you possess anything more than a passing interest in French history, "Frenchness," and French semiotics, you will not want to pass on this work.

The current English translation here is, unfortunately, taken from a subset of the original seven volumes, reduced to three large volumes. Nora defends the reduction as maintaining the spirit of the original, in spite of the collection's selection list from the larger original. He may be right. But it is nevertheless unfortunate that the complete set was not translated into English.
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