"The Past in French History" by Robert Gildea

The Past in French History Robert Gildea

Publication date:
24 Apr 1996
Yale University Press
432 pages: 235 x 156mm
24 b-w illus.

The past has a profound presence in French consciousness, perhaps more than that of any other nation. In this book, Robert Gildea explores France's relationship with its own history and investigates some of the persistent themes in French political culture. It is essentially a book about "remembering", about the ways in which the French remember potent national figures such as Joan of Arc and Napoleon.

The book begins with an historiographical survey of the broad schools of French historical writing, and then looks at the underlying themes which recur throughout the story of the French past. Gildea investigates such topics as revolution and counter-revolution, church and state, regionalism and centralism, nationalism and political identity, and demonstrates the way in which different versions of the past have been manufactured by competing political interests to further their cause.

"Never before have the competing constructions of the past been examined in a single volume with such erudition and panache...Gildea deals with his subject theoretically, but he intertwines his themes with dexterity and originality."—Douglas Johnson, Times Literary Supplement