Patrice Higonnet teaches French history at Harvard. His latest book is Goodness Beyond Virtue: Jacobins During the French Revolution. (July 2001)


The Last French Saint

Simone Weil

Francine du Plessix Gray
For Tocqueville, politics was the religion of the nineteenth century; religion, that is, of the left (revolutionary socialism); of the center (anticlerical republicanism); and of the right, which in France meant Catholicism. One of the most striking aspects of the long religious wars between 1789 and World War II was …

The Lamentable Library

French politics often seem to be an extension of French culture by other means. Jack Lang, the minister of culture, was the only prominent socialist to do well in the last elections, and the plans for a new national library, the Bibliothèque de France, have continued to cause intense controversy …

Scandal on the Seine

The building for the new French National Library (the Bibliothéque de France) that is just about to be constructed in Paris is a threat to French culture. It is hostile to books, hostile to people, hostile to the city of Paris. It is impractical, indifferent to its site, indifferent to …

How Guilty Were the French?

Vichy France and the Jews

by Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton
During the first week of October 1940, the Vichy government, without coercion by the Germans, enacted laws that excluded French Jews from various professions, including teaching, journalism, the officer corps, and high positions in the civil service. Algerian Jews were deprived of their citizenship. Prefects were authorized to detain foreign …