The son of the novelist François Mauriac, at the Liberation Claude Mauriac became General de Gaulle's private secretary (1944-9) and editor of the Gaullist intellectual monthly, Liberté de l'esprit (1949-53), before gaining a reputation as a novelist. In the 1950s he became associated with those writers experimenting with the nouveau roman, but his major achievement is the cycle of memoirs known as Le Temps immobile (Time Immobile), in which the relationship between memory and chronology is explored.
b. 1926, Cartignies
Rooted in the northern tradition of working-class, municipal Socialism and mayor of Lille from 1973, Mauroy was chosen by Mitterrand in 1981 to be his first prime minister and was one of the main architects of the 'Socialist experiment' of the early 1980s. Despite also having been behind the U-turn towards a policy of economic 'rigour', his image is inextricably associated with the supposed errors of the 1981-4 period and with old-style Socialism. As first secretary of the Parti Socialiste between 1988 and 1992, he argued for a form of social democracy which would entertain a 'critical relationship' with capitalism.
See also: parties and movements
Viewed with hindsight, the events of May and June 1968 mark a turning point in the history of the Fifth Republic, so much so that during the next decade France would undergo a process of irreversible change that constitutes a watershed in modern French history. As opinion polls consistently show, May 1968 is the event most frequently recalled by the French since 1945. Part of the fascination resides in the paradoxical nature of the events themselves: on the one hand, no one could have foreseen the sheer scale of the crisis, despite the signs of discontent which had existed for some time; on the other hand, the events may be said to constitute a 'failed' or a 'non-revolution' which ended up transforming France and particularly the French people in a quite fundamental way. Although interpretations of May are varied, often determined as much by political orientation as by the degree of hindsight characterizing them, one thing is certain: after May 1968 France would not be the same again.
It is important to note the international context in which the events occurred. As David Caute (1988) records, the social and political crises of 1968 were not limited solely to France. French unrest was part of a much wider groundswell of protest across the globe. Indeed, the student movement developed in the United States, where, from the early 1960s onwards, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) protested about enduring inequalities there. The event which did most to catalyse the wider spread of student protest was, however, American involvement in the Vietnam war. During April 1967, student draftees in the United States signalled their opposition to the war by burning their draft cards, and almost
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Publication information: Book title: Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture. Contributors: Alex Hughes - Editor, Keith Reader - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 364.
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