Melancholy Politics: Loss, Mourning, and Memory in Late Modern France

Paperback | August 31, 2011

byJean-philippe Mathy

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The current cultural climate in France is often described as one of “déclinisme” or “sinistrose,” a mixture of pessimism about the national future, nostalgia for the past, and a sinister sense of irreversible decline concerning the present. The notion of “democratic melancholia” has become widely popular, cropping up time and again in academic papers and newspaper articles. In Melancholy Politics, Jean-Philippe Mathy examines the development of this disenchanted mood in the works of prominent French philosophers, historians, and sociologists since the beginning of the 1980s. This period represents a significant turning point in French intellectual life, as the legacy of major postwar and sixties theorists such as Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, and Foucault was increasingly challenged by a younger generation of authors who repudiated both Marxism and structuralism. The book is not a classic intellectual or cultural history of post-1968 France, but rather a contribution to the understanding of the present—a collection of soundings into what remains largely a complex, ongoing process.

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The current cultural climate in France is often described as one of “déclinisme” or “sinistrose,” a mixture of pessimism about the national future, nostalgia for the past, and a sinister sense of irreversible decline concerning the present. The notion of “democratic melancholia” has become widely popular, cropping up time and again in ...

Jean-Philippe Mathy is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:August 31, 2011Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271037849

ISBN - 13:9780271037844

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Loss, Mourning, Memory

1. Specters of the Sixties

2. French Postmodern

3. Le Débat, Year One: The Generation of 1980

4. The Return of the Prophet: Bourdieu, Zola, and the Dreyfusist Legacy

5. Desperately Seeking Marianne: The Uses of the Republic

6. Memory Wars

7. Old Wine, New Skins: Race, Laïcité, Frenchness

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

Melancholy Politics is a stimulating and enjoyable read. . . .

[The book] is perhaps best viewed as a work of contemporary history infused with a healthy dose of memory studies theory, and should certainly be read by anyone with an interest in how a nation attempts to deal with its past.”

—Adam Timmins, Journal of Contemporary European Studies