Thursday, May 24, 2007

In Memoriam

This post has to do with French politics only in the most indirect way, but I did want to take a moment to remember four men who died recently and whose work intersected mine in one way or another:

Christian Delacampagne, philosopher, writer, diplomat, traveler, and friend, was an indispensable resource for many students of France. We became friends when he was cultural attaché in Boston and remained in touch over the years.

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes was a French physicist and Nobel prizewinner. My first love was physics, my Ph. D. is in mathematics, and I occasionally cheat on my current loves to follow what's happening in these fields, so I have some appreciation of the elegance of Gennes' work on the solid and liquid states and the marchland of liquid crystals that divides them. He was also an impressive teacher, with a gift for the pregnant example.

René Rémond was noted especially as a historian of the French right, but he died a few days too soon to witness the reunification of the Bonapartist, moral order, and Orleanist rights in the person of Nicolas Sarkozy. One would like to have heard his comments on the event. I also recall his exemplary service as chair of a panel investigating the assistance provided by the Church to the fleeing milicien Paul Touvier. Rémond was a model of probity in that controversial affair.

Eugen Weber was an exemplary historian and an inspiration to many of us who study France in the United States. A prolific reviewer, he was always careful to notice the qualities of a translation and generous to a fault, as I can abundantly attest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

René Rémond, c'est une grande perte, après la disparition prématurée d'Alain Lancelot,notamment en ce qui concerne l'histoire des droites en France. J'ai lu son ouvrage éponyme quand j'étais étudiant à Sciences Po.