France in the Modern World

France in the Modern World

France in the Modern World

France in the Modern World

Excerpt

Any attempt to understand contemporary France must take account of the paradoxes that characterize her new place in the world, or better, perhaps, her search for a new place in the world. Militarily, France is one of the few members of the atomic club and economically she has never been more prosperous. Yet in the postwar world of superpowers she is generally classed among the "former great powers." The French have never been particularly reticent in proclaiming the universal significance--if not superiority --of their civilization, and under de Gaulle there has been a resurgence of national self-esteem. Yet the French press continually laments the "americanization" of French life--and, indeed, of the French language. In this perplexing state of affairs the French have tried to adapt old institutions to new realities, and, where this has failed, to create new institutions.

It is often difficult for English-speaking people to see in contemporary France anything but narrow nationalism and unrelenting hostility to things Anglo-Saxon. The present volume is in many respects an attempt to deal with such a simplistic view by exploring some of the diverse and complex phenomena that have gone into the making of modern France. The Fifth Republic has drawn together a number of elements from traditions that have heretofore been mutually hostile. Having attained at least a temporary equilibrium within the domestic political framework, the French voice is once again heard--if not heeded--in international affairs. It is, moreover, a voice inspired not by elaborate doctrines but by the principles of national independence and prestige in cultural, political, and economic terms.

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