The fourth and final volume in Pierre Nora's monumental series documenting the history and culture of France takes a self-reflective turn. The eleven essays collected here consider the texts and places that make up the collective memory of the history of France, a country whose people are extraordinarily conscious of history and their place in it. Distinguished contributors look at the medieval Grands chroniques de France and the monasteries and chancelleries that produced them, the establishment of Versailles as a historical museum, and Pierre Larousse's Grand dictionnaire, an important touchstone of cultural memory. Other essays of this title range in topic from the creation of the National Archives, a curiously organized catacomb of manuscripts, to Annales, a publication begun in 1929 that profoundly revitalized the study of history in France. Taken together, these richly detailed essays fully explore the multifaceted ways France has institutionalized its history and are, along with the rest of Les Lieux de memoire, a crucial part of that process.
Pierre Nora is editorial director at Editions Gallimard. Since 1977, he has been directeur d'etudes at the Ecole des hautes etudes en science sociales. He has directed the editorial work on Les Lieux de memoire since 1984. David P. Jordan is the LAS Distinguished Professor of French History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of Transforming Paris and The Revolutionary Career of Maximilien Robespierre.