Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture

By Alex Hughes; Keith Reader | Go to book overview
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and Emmanuel Levinas, has written a number of trenchant essays whose common theme is to attack the false premises on which the supposed 'liberties' of the modern individual have been based. After a series of works on Jewish identity and memory, he achieved notoriety principally for his attack on modernity in The Undoing of Thought (La Défaite de la pensée). Here he develops his critique of postmodern culture, reflecting a major concern of his (shared with several contemporary intellectuals) that 'non-thought' threatens the continuity of French cultural identity.


Major works

Finkielkraut, A. (1982) L'Avenir d'une négation, Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
--(1983) Le Juif imaginaire, Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
--(1988) The Undoing of Thought [La Défaite de la pensée], London: Claridge.
--(1992) Comment peut-on être croate?, Paris: Gallimard.


Publishing house

Flammarion was founded in 1876 by the publisher Ernest Flammarion (1846-1936). Among the popular authors it launched were Daudet, Zola, Gyp and, later, Henri Troyat and Guy des Cars. It publishes novels, academic works and art books, as well as affordable and popular collections such as 'J'ai lu' (3,850 titles 1958-94), 'Père Castor' (for children) and 'GF-Flammarion' (600 titles of French literature).


See also: publishing/l'édition

Further reading

Martin, H.-J., Chartier, R. and Vivet, J.-P. (eds) (1986) Histoire de l'édition française, vol. 4, Le Livre concurrencé 1900-1950, Paris: Promodis (essential reading).

Parinet, E. (1992) La Librairie Flammarion (1875-1914), Paris: IMEC.

folk music

The word folklore in French, as its derivative folklorique attests, has always had a derogatory connotation. Music scholars would preferably refer to musique traditionnelle or musique ethnique. This domain extends to chansons. French folk-song's heritage is rich and its diversity reflects France's geographical and linguistic variety. If this heritage still nourishes the collective mentality through familial, parochial and educational channels (sea shanties, Christmas carols, drinking songs, lullabies, etc. from different regions), the creative sources of new folk-songs are more likely to be found at the periphery: Brittany, Basque and Occitan country, Alsace.

The folk music revival in the 1960s and 1970s coincided with the creation, under Malraux of the maisons de la culture. After the events of May 1968, folk music's green messages appealed to the generation of soixante-huitards (literally 'sixty-eighters'; young people who followed for a while the ecological and libertarian ideal, away from consumer society). Their audience was also exposed to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen, as well as to the country-and-western repertoire through Hugues Aufray, who specialized in adapting them in French. Folk clubs appeared everywhere.

The folk group of the period was Malicorne, formed in 1974 by a whole group of musicians who mastered traditional instruments (spinet, dulcimer, hurdy-gurdy), while at the same time introducing modern arrangements. Their best album was Almanack, and they triumphed at the Cambridge Folk Festival


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