||[Jan. 23rd, 2012|01:30 pm]
So, I am about to be deleted (or, maybe, writing those seven words have prevented that future from happening). LiveJournal people tell me I don't use the site enough (commenting on Friends' LJ accounts clearly doesn't count) and so I shall (have been) removed in two weeks' time.|
I think my problem is that I can never convince myself that anyone, even my closest LJ friends, can be interested in what I have to say.
So perhaps they might be interested in what other people say? The other person today is Eugen Weber, one of the most readable of French historians. I am reading his "My France: Politics, Culture, Myth" (Harvard UP 1991), basically because I wanted to see what he has to say about the 19th-century notion that the French were descended from Gauls (that's a fascinating chapter). But there was an interesting chapter in it called "Who sang the Marseillaise?" The song was composed in Lorraine in April 1792. In June of that year someone sang it at a recruiting banquet in Marseilles. And thus "the new national hymn (as it became in 1795) was linked to a city whose people did not speak French nor, in the case of many of them, feel themselves to be French". "In 1893 [that's Eighteen Ninety-Three], according to official figures, about a quarter of the 37,000-odd communes in France spoke no French" (pp.94-95). The point of the article, and it is made very well, is that ultimately it was in part through songs, including patriotic songs like the Marseillaise, that the French in the end learned to speak French.