➻ Jean-Baptiste Duroselle [1917-1994]

por Teoría de la historia


El historiador francés Jean-Baptiste Duroselle falleció el pasado lunes, a los 76 años, tras una larga enfermedad del aparato digestivo, según informó la Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas, de la que era miembro desde 1975. Nacido el 17 de noviembre de 1917 en París, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle era especialista en historia contemporánea y autor de numerosas obras sobre los siglos XIX y XX, relativas esencialmente a las relaciones internacionales. Tras doctorarse en la Escuela Normal Superior, obtuvo la cátedra de Historia y Geografía en el Instituto de Estudios Políticos París. En la Sorbona sucedió a otro gran historiador de las relaciones internacionales, Pierre Renouvin. Miembro asociado de numerosas universidades extranjeras y profesor también del Instituto de Historia de las Relaciones Internacionales, Duroselle es autor de Historia diplomática de 1919 a la actualidad; Europa de 1815 a nuestros días, publicada en español por la editorial Labor; Francia y los franceses de 1900 a 1920; Todo imperio perecerá, visión teórica de las relaciones internacionales. En 1990 publicó Europa: historia de sus pueblos. Fue también vicepresidente del Comité de Historia de la Segunda Guerra Mundial y presidente del Consejo de Administración del Centro de Estudios y de Investigaciones Internacionales.

 [Fuente: “Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, historiador francés”, in El País, 14 de septiembre de 1994]

Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, historian: born Paris 17 November 1917; Assistant Professor of History, Sorbonne 1945-49, Professor 1964-83 (Emeritus); Professor of History, University of Saarbrucken 1950-57; Professor of History, University of Lille 1957-58; Professor, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques 1958-64; married 1940 Christiane Viant (three sons, one daughter); died Paris 12 September 1994. French historians have been so praised for the innovations and experiments of the so-called ‘New History’ that in Britain one sometimes forgets that there are French scholars who maintain the erudition and the skills of the traditional historian. Jean-Baptiste Duroselle was such a historian – a specialist in the study of international history and a prolific writer. His two large books surveying French policies in the world from 1932 to 1944, La Decadence (1980) and L’Abime (1985) are classics of diplomatic history. The Sorbonne was a fine place in the period after the Second World War when Pierre Renouvin lectured on modern diplomatic history with Duroselle as his assistant and then, from 1964 to 1983, as his successor as Professor of History. The biggest amphitheatres were crowded and the students fascinated. Duroselle 39065did not have the same pedagogical rigour as Renouvin, but his lectures were remarkable in their presentation and perceptions. In seminars he was particularly impressive, with questions, suggestions, criticism flowing from his vivacity. Vivas are public in France, and it was well worth attending one when Duroselle was in charge and was asking the questions. In 1946, Duroselle asked a candidate for entrance to the Ecole Normale Superieure which was the monument in Paris that was built for the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. The candidate was furious. ‘It’s not fair to ask me that question,’ he complained. ‘I’m not a Parisian. You’re deliberately favouring Parisians. I’m from Marseilles.’ But, ‘Voyons, monsieur,’ said Duroselle jovially. ‘You know the monument perfectly well. It’s the Eiffel Tower.’ Laughter replaced indignation. (The candidate was successful and eventually became a Professor at the Sorbonne.). Duroselle had himself studied at the Ecole Normale and had taught at a number of universities. Even when lecturing at the Sorbonne he had obligations elsewhere. He was well known in the United States and did much to arrange co-operation with Italian historians. Britain interested him less, although he was always ready to help British postgraduate students. I once asked him why British history was so neglected in France, but he replied that Belgian history was much more neglected. He published about 20 books, some of them very large. Biography attracted him and he greatly enjoyed writing a life of Clemenceau (published in 1988). Clemenceau had left no collected papers, and to write on him was to search amongst the many people to whom Clemenceau had written. But he claimed to find such research amusing as well as considerable. As he put it, it was better to discover all the archipelagos, islands and atolls of the Pacific than it would be to explore the melancholy plains of the Middle West or Siberia (Duroselle was punctilious in his acknowledgement of the work of other historians, and for Clemenceau he stated the heavy debt that he owed to Dr David Watson, of Dundee University). His last book, to be published shortly, is an account of the First World War, replacing his earlier volume on the subject. At the time of his death he was working on a biography of Foch. His books were concerned with great moments in French history, but he was in no way a nationalist. An energetic, dedicated historian, he has left many admirable works.

[Douglas JOHNSON. “Obituary: Jean-Baptiste Duroselle”, in Independent, 20 de septiembre de 1994]