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The Discovery of France (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Graham Robb
4.1 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (8 commentaires client)

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. France is often regarded as the center of elegant civilization, so it's surprising to find that as late as 1890, most of the population was far from civilized—outside the confines of sophisticated Paris, as noted biographer Robb explains in his riveting exploration of France's historical geography, great swathes of countryside were terra incognita: dark places inhabited by illiterate tribes professing pre-Christian beliefs and lethally hostile to outsiders. They spoke not French but regional dialects; much of the country had not been accurately mapped; and many in the rural areas lacked surnames. The author himself embarked on a 14,000-mile bicycle tour of the France passed over in tourist guides. The result is a curious, engrossing mix of personal observation, scholarly diligence and historical narrative as Robb discusses the formation of both the French character and the French state. Robb's biographies of Victor Hugo, Rimbaud and Balzac were all selected by the New York Times as among the best books of the year, an accolade that assures a select readership will be eager to pack his newest alongside their Michelin guides. 8 pages of b&w illus, maps. (Oct.)
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Présentation de l'éditeur

It's easy to reduce France to the sum of its parts: weekend breaks amid the culture of Paris or summer holidays basking in the sunshine of the south; accounts of the Revolution -- Madame Defarge knitting beside the guillotine -- and Napoleon's battle at Waterloo (mis)remembered from school history lessons; a country famous for its intellectuals, its philosophers and writers, its fashion, food and wine. Despite this, however, the notion of 'the French' as one nation is relatively recent and -- historically speaking -- quite misleading; in order to discover the 'real' past of France, it's not only necessary to go back in time, but also to go at a slower pace than modern life generally allows: this book is the result of 14,000 miles covered by bicycle (and four years spent in the library). It is -- at last -- a book which tells the whole story. Praise for Robb's last novel, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century: ‘Funny, enterprisingly researched, and undertaken with few apparent preconceptions . . This is an excellent, amusing, decent book, which covers an enormous amount of ground in a little space’ Philp Hensher, Spectator ‘A fascinating study of a complex subject, written with humanity, sceptical intelligence and an impressive command of the sources’ Daily Telegraph ‘A fascinating mix of personal testimony and judiciously filleted history’ The Times

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4.1 étoiles sur 5
4.1 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Une France qu'on n'a pas l'habitude de voir 23 août 2010
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Ouvrage écrit par un universitaire anglais qui a parcouru le pays en vélo et a accumulé, en bibliothèque, un savoir encyclopédique. Ce livre ne veut pas avoir l'air d'un traité mais, par des anecdotes et des descriptions d'endroits particuliers, l'auteur veut montrer la diversité de la France pour faire connaître au public anglais la diversité de notre patrimoine régional. Malgré des passages sur les agents de la modernisation du pays (personnes éclairées, rôle de l'état, réseau de transports, etc.), on en tire l'idée que la France, venue du fond des âges, porte des marques encore visibles d'archaïsmes et de disparités qui font douter le lecteur qu'il y ait une identité française. On insiste beaucoup sur les Bretons, les habitants des montagnes , régions prisées des Britanniques. Pas étonnant que les lecteurs anglais aient apprécié. Il n'est pas sûr que, de ce côté-ci de la Manche, l'ouvrage, parfois fastidieux, emporte autant de suffrages. Mais si l'on veut sortir des sentiers battus de l'historiographie, sautez sur la selle de votre bicyclette.
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 La France profonde? 9 novembre 2010
Par dhome
I would recommend this book to any person interested in France and its history. It is a great pity that it has not been translated into French or, as Mr. Robb is a published author in French, he could do the job himself and thus avoid translation nuances.

I spend two months travelling in France every second year and I always make a point of spending most of my time in the pays. (The last trip involved, after consulting Jean Bertot's «Guides du cycliste en France»; a great deal of cycling; rather like the author.) Whilst my French is not as competent as the authors; I am continually fascinated by the diversity of France especially in its attitudes (of being French), dialects and languages. During my reading of this book; I found myself frequently checking my 1930s copy of «Les Origins des Peuples Romans» by the German linguist Walther von Wartburg and then some of Mr. Robbs acute observations made perfect sense.

As deldel alluded to above, knowledge of how recently France coalesced into a nation and how many disparate parts it is comprised of; would; hopefully, make modern French society far more tolerant of diversity than the current debate suggests it is. btw: I sent a copy to a French friend in Bourgogne and he, like deldel was utterly amazed by the information contained in it; suggesting that the Parisi version of French history has been the only one taught at French schools. This book could go some way in correcting that and in the process may make France an even better country.
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9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 excellent and original book 1 novembre 2009
Par deldel
I am French and learned a lot, reading this book. Never heard of Cagots before, for example. The author is especially shrewd at making you see the situation of franch people from the modern times on, without today's prejudice or misrepresentration. Things that you knew (France was rural, dialects were extensively used...) do not really "register" unless the consequences are made clear, like in this book. Of course it not very pleasant to the French or more exactly to what they thought they were, but it is never agressive. It makes you reflect on how much our historiography has been actually shaped by the late XIX / early XX century nationalist historians. However, I would be very interested in reading commentaries from trained historians, as many theories in this books are bound to be controversial.
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Why no French edition? 29 janvier 2010
This is a fascinating book which touches on many unfamiliar themes about the character of France in the past, not least the fact that so few French people actually spoke the language until relatively recently - at least as a first language. The portrait painted is largely one of a wild country where once you ventured off the beaten track as visitors you were often not safe from attack and had trouble being understood.

I'm surprised that the foreign rights staff at Picador haven't secured a French edition. Are the views of our respective academics so very different, that it allows for no co-editions?
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