Pub date 5th July 1973
Original publisher Oxford Paperbacks (UK)
This is a history of the French, which tries to explain their idiosyncrasies, enthusiasms and prejudices. It goes beyond the recital of events to investigate their attitudes and behaviour over an unusually wide range of activities. The first part scrutinizes the peculiar way of thinking and of talking adopted by the French, their powerful sense of national identity, their ambivalent feelings about foreigners. It shows what it meant to be a Breton or a Provencal, an Alsation or an Auvergnat. The second part analyses French taste and the role of the artist. It enquires into the quality of life, the French view of happiness, friendship and comfort, humour, reactions to scientific progress, compromises with corruption and superstition. This survey is a major reinterpretation of France's achievement as a nation and of the individual experience of the French. It has taken its place as one of the great works of scholarship on modern France.
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