Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Stanley Hoffmann turns 80

On Friday there will be a colloquium at Harvard in honor of Stanley Hoffmann, the doyen of French studies in the United States. You can see the program here. Stanley was born in Vienna 80 years ago, spent the war years in France as a Jewish child hidden in a Catholic school (the film Au revoir, les enfants parallels his story), and wrote his thesis on Pierre Poujade before coming to Harvard in the 1950s as part of a distinguished group that included Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. He has been a beacon to generations of Harvard students, as well as my mentor and friend for thirty years. Stanley has kindled a passion for France and for Europe in more Americans than probably anyone else in the world. His erudition is exceeded only by his wisdom and wit.* François Furet once said of him that "he is one of the great professors of the twentieth century." His greatness continues to enlighten us all in the twenty-first. Happy Birthday, Stanley.

* Stanley is also the kindest, gentlest, and most generous critic imaginable. I once wrote a paper in which I referred to a book that "Paul Hazard published in 1954." Stanley wrote in the margins of the draft I sent him: "If Hazard published that book in 1954, I must be mistaken in thinking that I read it in 1949, but you might want to check on the date."


Leo said...

when you see him can you relay the best wishes from an anonymous French admirer?

Unknown said...

Of course, but if you want to leave your own best wishes, you can do so on the Web site to which I link. In the upper right hand corner there is an "Add Entry" link to a guest book for the occasion.

Anonymous said...

If it is not too late, un grand bonjour de ma part!