France went to war in 1914 not only in the trenches but also in the mind. When President Poincare called upon the intellectual elite to contribute to the war effort with "their pens and their words", the "union sacre" of scholars and writers - including Henri Bergson, Pierre Duhem, Ernest Lavisse, and Emile Durkheim - united French intellects against German "Kultur". Yet, as Martha Hanna points out, there were ambiguities and insecurities in such fields as Kantian ideas, classicism and science. Behind the facade 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.
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(235mm x 155mm x 25mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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Author Biography - Martha Hanna
Martha Hanna is Professor of History, University of Colorado at Boulder.