Modern France: A Companion to French Studies

Modern France: A Companion to French Studies

Modern France: A Companion to French Studies

Modern France: A Companion to French Studies

Excerpt

The task of comprising within the limits of a single volume a survey of Modern France has been far more difficult than in the companion volume on Medieval France. Firstly, the advance of knowledge and the development of government and society have necessitated several chapters which have nothing corresponding to them in the Medieval volume -- chapters on Finance, Law, Music, the Stage, Mathematics, Science. Secondly, though this volume covers a shorter period than the other, every topic, except architecture, demands more space for its treatment. We can see this from the analogy of the History of France in the two works edited by M. Lavisse, in which five volumes are allotted to medieval history from Hugh Capet and seventeen to modern history, or from that of the History of French Literature edited by Petit de Julleville, in which the share of modern literature is between five and six times as large as the share of medieval literature.

Thus, though this volume is nearly twice as long as its companion, the need for compression has been far greater. This is especially the case with the chapter on History, which has only been kept within the limits assigned to it by the skill and selfrenunciation of the writers. They have aimed at putting before the reader, not a summary of events, but a clear picture of the period with which they are dealing -- a picture, in which details of no special significance are omitted, while the salient features are brought into prominence. And, as in order to make a picture the artist must stand at a certain distance from his subject, the principle, not only in this chapter but throughout the volume, has been to touch very lightly on events which are too near to us to admit of their being seen in the right perspective.

The long chapter on History is followed by five chapters which are more or less subsidiary to it -- on the Army, on the Navy, on Economic and Social Life, on the Finance of the Ancien Régime, and on Law. In the chapters by M. Caron and M. de la Ronciére in this and the companion volume, we have for the . . .

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