Nationalism in France : class and nation since 1789 /
Brian Jenkins.
Savage, Md. : Barnes & Noble, 1990.
x, 225 p. ; 22 cm.
More Details
Savage, Md. : Barnes & Noble, 1990.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 210-219) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1991-09:
Jenkins's lucid and polished work reads equally well as a political history of modern France and as an extended essay on French nationalism over the past 200 years. Jenkins shows that from the time of the Revolution until the demise of the Paris Commune, political leaders on the Left used nationalism as a way of rallying support for the ideals of radical republicanism. Later, in the years before WW I, the heads of the Third Republic found that nationalism could serve to give legitimacy to the regime. At the same time the radical Left moved away from nationalism while the Far Right espoused a new and menacing nationalism that appealed, or sought to appeal, to the discontented from all classes. What began a century ago with Paul Deroulede has continued, although with changes, with Phillippe Petain, Charles de Gaulle, and today, with Jean-Marie Le Pen. Advanced undergraduates can profit from reading this brilliant interpretation of recent French history. Professional scholars will find it both controversial and stimulating. -S. Bailey, Knox College
Review Quotes
Jenkin's lucid and polished work reads equally well as a political history of modern France and as an extended essay on French nationalism over the past 200 years.>>>>
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Choice, September 1991
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Long Description
The concept of "nation" was born in France, and the word has never been far from the center of French political discourse since. Before 1789 France was not yet a nation; the French people, who had been subjects rather than citizens, became a nation when events turned them into political actors in their own right. Taking into consideration both the liberal and classic Marxian approaches though not necessarily subscribing to either, Brian Jenkins asserts that, although the complex history of nationalism in France is closely interwoven with French social, economic, and cultural evolution, the phenomenon is primarily political, and is therefore characterized by diversity. It is not possible to talk of nationalism, only of nationalisms. Jenkins demonstrates, through a survey of French history, that the articulation of the idea of nationhood has been profoundly different in the ideologies of left and right, reflecting rival class perspectives on the nature and purposes of the political community; and the picture has become more complicated as the class structures of society have evolved. In addition, the character of nationalism since 1945 has been profoundly conditioned by the bloc structure of the postwar settlement. Neither a theoretical treatise nor a comprehensive history of postrevolutionary France, this is rather a multidisciplinary intellectual synthesis of the development of the idea of "nation" in the light of 200 years of French history.

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