Beyond Ideological Impasses
I would like to share some more personal and less detailed thoughts on your book, Le Passé d'une illusion, than those in my essay published at the request of Pierre Nora in Le Débat.1
It has been almost a year since I first got wind of your book through an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which not only emphasized its importance but expressly made mention of the long note on pages 195–96 referring to my own works. Thus, no doubt I was aware of it sooner than I would have been in ordinary circumstances, and I read it, line by line, with the greatest interest and with aesthetic pleasure as well.
I quickly realized that your work was free of two impasses or two obstacles that in Germany confine all reflection on the twentieth century to a narrow space and that, in spite of all the laudable individual efforts, render it impotent. In Germany, this reflection, in fact and in principle, has attached itself completely and almost exclusively