Rethinking France

Les Lieux de mémoire, Volume 2: Space

Edited by Pierre Nora. David P. Jordan, General Editor

Rethinking France
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Edited by Pierre Nora. David P. Jordan, General Editor

Under the direction of Pierre Nora
Translation directed by David P. Jordan
300 pages | 94 halftones, 25 maps, 1 figure | 6-1/4 x 9-1/2 | © 2006
Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9780226591339 Published July 2006
How do we visualize a state or a nation? Some might imagine territory—the borders that divide countries, that mark the space where power is exercised and history evolves. Others might picture natural aspects like mountains, rivers, and landscapes that make their own country distinct. For Pierre Nora, these are historical and geographical conceptions of “space.” And, in the case of the French, these conceptions are not separate but instead uniquely linked. They are key to understanding French national identity.

In Space, the second volume in the University of Chicago Press’s translation of Nora’s ambitious Les Lieux de mémoire, a group of France’s leading historians and cultural commentators call attention to the meaning of space for the French and the firm connection between the nation’s history and its geography. The essays gathered here cover the most essential approaches to French space: external and internal boundaries, the base unit of local space, and the mental construction that gives a general idea of the concept of landscape. The analyses focus on three aspects of natural boundaries: the forest, the north and the south, and the coastline. Each region of France, they show, is a space of memory that is the fruit of all the knowledge that gives it shape: statistical, cartographical, geological, and historical.

A crucial piece in Nora’s profound historical project on the way the French understand themselves, this volume will be appreciated by any critical thinker with an interest in French history, politics, culture, or philosophy.
Adam Wesley Dean | Virginia Quarterly Review
"Scholars who study how memories influence history must read this book."
Introduction vii
  Pierre Nora (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

1. North-South 1
  Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (translated by Jennifer Gage)

2. France, The Coast, and the Sea 25
  Michel Mollat du Jourdin (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

3. The Forest 83
  Andrée Corvol (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

4. The Region 149
  Jacques Revel (translated by Janine Maltz Perron)

5. The Department 183
  Marcel Roncayolo (translated by Christine Hayes)

6. The Local: One and Divisible 231
  Thierry Gasnier (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

7. The Painter's Landscape 295
  Françoise Cachin (translated by Mark Hutchinson)

8. The Scholar's Landscape 343
  Marcel Roncayolo (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

9. The Vendée, Region of Memory: The Blue and the White 383
  Jean-Clément Martin (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

10. A Frontier Memory: Alsace 409
  Jean-Marie Mayeur (translated by Richard C. Holbrook)

Illustration Credits 443
Plan of the Volumes 451
Index 455
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