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A History of French Passions: Volume 1: Ambition, Love, and Politics$
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Theodore Zeldin

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198221777

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198221777.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
A History of French Passions: Volume 1: Ambition, Love, and Politics

Theodore Zeldin

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the aims of this book; one of which is to investigate the image of the French as thinking themselves as being, above all else, intelligent and to assess the place that intelligence, or reason, or ideas have in French life, to explain how intellectuals came to be held in such exceptionally high esteem, and to show the consequences this has had. This chapter further reveals that Modern French history can be usually interpreted in one of two ways: the more traditional approach and an alternative approach. The book's aim is that this may serve to throw some light on the question of how the French differed from other nations in this period. The method employed for this study is analytical in the sense that the book tries to disentangle the different elements and aspects of French life, and to study each independently and look at its inter-relationships. The book further aims for generalizations traditionally made about France to become, as it were, loose. In other words that it will be possible to see how they were invented, and by whom, and what they represent and what they conceal.

Keywords:   intelligence, French life, intellectuals, Modern French history, traditional approach, alternative approach

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