✍ Éventail de l’histoire vivante. Hommage à Lucien Febvre offert par l’amitié d’historiens, linguistes, géographes, économistes, sociologues, ethnologues [1953]

por Teoría de la historia

81Mtguq1FwLTo commemorate his seventy-fifth birthday in 1953, Lucien Febvre’s friends and students were happily inspired to pay tribute to the man who, by common accord, is considered the great renovator of historical studies in their country. In this embattled chef d’ecole, “vehement and fond of battle, always going straight to the goal”, in the words of his close friend, the distinguished Fernand Braudel, ever “expressing strongly that which is strong”, in his own, they see the dynamic and encyclopedic champion of the new history, whose unceasing advocacy of a broader and deeper conception of history and historical methodology has produced, to quote from Braudel again, “une révolution de l’esprit” in France. Their esteem for him has taken the form of this impressive two-volume collection of learned articles, totaling over goo pages and comprising eighty-three separate contributions. Overflowing with vitality and enthusiasm, writes Braudel in his revealing pen picture of the man, he is “attentive, charming, impassioned, discreet, dazzling, strewing ideas and recollections with prodigal hand, happy to see all, to discuss all.” As professor, up to his recent retirement, at the College de France and, before his return to Paris, successively professor at Dijon and Strasbourg, he has fired generations of students whose subsequent brilliant careers as researchers and teachers attest the inspiration they received from him. But it is not his teaching alone, they maintain, nor even his distinguished writings in the sixteenth century that have given him his eminence and won him the admiration of his many associates and disciples. Those activities, notable as they are, were part of his larger crusade, which found expression in his work as editor of the Revue de synthe’se where, in 1907, he began his long association with Henri Berr; of the Annales, which he founded in 1929 and made one of the great vitalizing forces in French historiography; of the monumental Encyclope’die franfaise olf which he was an animating spirit and general editor for years. The Hommage à Lucien Febvre then occasions no surprise for those who know his work. But how convey adequately and in fewer words than there are pages in this very work the extraordinary breadth and range of the contributions! To indicate its formal structure might be helpful. The first section deals with “History,” its methods, points of view, definitions, and there one finds admirable articles, among others, by Georges Bourgin and Jean Fourastié. In a second section, entitled “Social Sciences,” and concerned with questions of geography, psychology, ethnology, demography, and economics, there are twenty-one articles, including those by R. Schnerb, A. Koyré, and I. Meyerson. A third section of the first volume, covering “The Present,” has essays by such outstanding historians as Pierre Renouvin, André Monglond, and Franz van Kalken. In the four sections that make up the second volume, dealing with various historical problems from antiquity to the French Revolution, the reader will again recognize familiar names, Zeller, Meuvret, Renaudet, and Gernet. But to take note of the formal structure (which at best is somewhat artificial) does little to indicate the astounding heterogeneity of the subject matter. By way of illustration, there are articles, ranging from815rrFg9OpL four to twenty-five pages, on serfdom, slavery in the Middle Ages, the Entente Cordiale, Heidegger, the myth in ancient India, Gide’s Caves du Vatican, Guicciardini, the contemporary cinema, land problems in Lombardy, social welfare in Spain. There is more than enough to satisfy the most eclectic interests, doubtless of M. Febvre himself. Still for all their diversity, the contributions are linked together in a broad but real unity. Taken collectively, are they not a magnificent illustration of the impact that Febvre has made upon his age? For he has been no plowman working a single furrow, writes Bourgin in a moving eulogy both of Febvre and of the late Marc Bloch, with whom the former had worked so closely for many years; he has been opening the broadest possible horizons in time and space so that we may understand the least badly possible the most history possible. By his lifelong insistance upon the study of geography, ethnology, psychology, and the other disciplines of the social sciences by making them in their interrelationst he armature and the very stuff of history, he has been “the wise guide, lighting up the road to knowledge”. And they also illustrate that aspect of Febvre’s work to which Fourastie calls attention, a kind of Baconian conception of history as the search for the condition of human progress, of faith that history thus examined is the vindication of the possibilities of man’s action transcending the limiting force of determinism.

[Leo GERSHOY. “Éventail de l’histoire vivante. Hommage à Lucien Febvre offert par l’amitié d’historiens, linguistes, géographes, économistes, sociologues, ethnologues” (reseña), in The American Historical Review, vol. LX, nº 3, abril de 1955, pp. 577-578]