Behind the façade of unity, the French intelligentsia was riven by the same fundamental divisions that had characterized it before the war. For example, the Republican Left argued that German nationalism and militarism began after Kant, with Fichte or Hegel, while the Catholic and nationalistic reactionary Right denounced Kant as the evil inspiration of France's liberal democracy and public school system. The heated rhetoric of the war and the unbearable loss of young lives, says Hanna, lent weight to a redefinition of French culture in national terms—and this, ironically, ended in the cultural conservatism of Vichy France.
This is the first study of the power of French pens and words during and after the Great War. It is a contribution to French and European history as well as to intellectual history.
[An] important and absorbing book...Readers, including those familiar with [the] themes [discussed here], will value the clarity, perception and sympathy which characterize Martha Hanna's treatment of them. But the main appeal of The Mobilization of Intellect lies in its human detail of how individuals and institutions, with all their strengths and eccentricities, responded to the conflict of loyalties that the war provoked.
Hanna presents a wealth of little-studied material, and demonstrates convincingly that the French intelligensia was determined to help sustain national morale, and that it thereby made a significant contribution to the war effort. She also shows how the nationalist imperative strengthened the hand of the conservatives, with their strong links to influential Action Française circles, and points to the post-war consequences first in the 1920s, and later in the policies of the Vichy régime. This is an attractively produced volume, which will be a useful source of reference, scrupulously documented from individual and institutional archives as well as from published material.
Extremely well written. Hanna has done extensive research in a neglected area. A very stimulating and original contribution.
Hanna's work takes up one of the major issues of the historiography of twentieth-century France at the present time--the relationship between the apparent traumas of the world wars and the underlying character of French culture, politics, and society. It will interest French historians, intellectual historians, historians of education, and historians of the World Wars. I believe its position in the existing historiographical literature to be unique. The book is a worthy addition to Harvard University Press's fine list in intellectual history in the ever-broadening sense of the term.
- 286 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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