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Plato Made It Up

James Davidson: Atlantis at Last!

19 June 2008
The Atlantis Story: A Short History of Plato’s Myth 
by Pierre Vidal-Naquet, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Exeter, 192 pp., £35, November 2007, 978 0 85989 805 8
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... now submerged but was not necessarily always submerged that has not been linked to Atlantis’s resonant name. To all such ‘scholars … would-be scholars … mythomaniacs and charlatans’ Pierre Vidal-Naquet had one answer, the same answer for half a century: Plato made Atlantis up. That was his response to a lecture by Fernand Robert in 1956, when the speaker tentatively referred to the theory that ...


Edmund Leach

15 July 1982
Myth, Religion and Society: Structuralist Essays 
by M. Detienne, L. Gernet, P.​Vernant" class="underline">J-P.​ Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, edited by R.L. Gordon.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 306 pp., £20, January 1982, 0 521 22780 1Show More
The Anthropological Circle: Symbol, Function, History 
by Marc Augé.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 131 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 521 23236 8
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... Gordon collection, which is by Gernet, who died in 1962 at the age of 80, first appeared as long ago as 1948; the remainder at various dates since 1968. Of the latter, three are by Vernant, five by Vidal-Naquet, three by Detienne. The fact that the Gernet item (‘ “Value” in Greek Myth’) bears a clear family resemblance to the rest is of special interest since it shows that the structuralism of the ...

A Flat in Neuilly

Douglas Johnson

3 February 1983
Ideology and Experience: Anti-Semitism in France at the time of the Dreyfus Affair 
by Stephen Wilson.
Associated University Presses, 812 pp., £30, August 1982, 0 8386 3037 5
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Cinq Années de ma Vie 
by Alfred Dreyfus.
Maspéro, 263 pp., frs 15
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La Républic et les Juifs après Copernic 
by Schmuel Trigano.
Les Presses d’Aujourd’hui, 272 pp., frs 75, April 1982, 2 901386 03 2
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... semitism in France at the end of the 19th century, is therefore very timely, as is the reprinting of Dreyfus’s recollections of his conviction and imprisonment, with an important preface by Pierre Vidal-Naquet and a postscript by Dreyfus’s grandson, Jean-Louis Lévy. First published in 1901, the memoir is a restrained, discreet and objective account of suffering and injustice. But is it about anti ...

To the crows!

James Davidson

27 January 1994
The Oldest Dead White European Males, and Other Reflections on the Classics 
by Bernard Knox.
Norton, 144 pp., £12.95, September 1993, 0 393 03492 5
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... Oldest Dead White European Males’, Bernard Knox addressed the impact made on a conservative discipline of new methods and concerns: the anthropology-influenced work of the Paris circle of Pierre Vidal-Naquet and J.-P. Vernant, ‘militant feminists’ and political correctness. On this side of the Atlantic the whole PC controversy is something of a phoney war, an attempt by right-wing bulls (the Sunday ...
6 March 1986
Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... 1954), were both favourably reviewed by Gernet in L’Année Sociologique. The second book, woven around a theme of Marcel Mauss, won wider public recognition through an article of 1963 published by Vidal-Naquet in Annales. Since then, one of the major themes of the New Historians, several of whom, like Vidal-Naquet himself, were involved in and perhaps disillusioned by the événements of the Sixties, has ...

Not Not To Be

Malcolm Schofield: Aristotle’s legacy

17 February 2005
A New History of Western Philosophy. Vol. I: Ancient Philosophy 
by Anthony Kenny.
Oxford, 341 pp., £17.99, June 2005, 0 19 875273 3
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... the sharper the whiff of authenticity they get. This book (like much present-day commentary on ancient philosophy) is not for them. Others now writing – Geoffrey Lloyd, Walter Burkert, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Josiah Ober, Andrea Nightingale come to mind – do much more in very different ways to respond to the cultural density and complexity of ancient Greek thought, and to explore its development within ...

Our God is dead

Richard Vinen: Jean Moulin

22 March 2001
The Death of Jean Moulin: Biography of a Ghost 
by Patrick Marnham.
Murray, 290 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 7195 5919 7
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... place in the national memory. The repeated attacks on him have kept his name in the public domain and the fact that they have come from the Right has encouraged left-wing intellectuals like Pierre Vidal-Naquet to speak in his defence. Have all the books and articles solved the mystery of Jean Moulin? They have certainly shed much light on the political circumstances of the Resistance; and of Moulin himself ...

Zeus Be Nice Now

James Davidson: Ancient Cults

19 July 2007
Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum 
Getty, 3014 pp., $1,215, March 2007, 978 0 89236 787 0Show More
Polytheism and Society at Athens 
by Robert Parker.
Oxford, 544 pp., £27.50, March 2007, 978 0 19 921611 6
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... when handling sources and reluctance to leap to conclusions. The study of Greek religion that flourished so unexpectedly after the Second World War was long dominated by the Paris school of Vernant, Vidal-Naquet and Detienne, and then by Walter Burkert of Zürich, a school in his own right. In each case, immense learning was combined with an intent to see patterns and make sense of them. In the former case ...

One day I’ll tell you what I think

Adam Shatz: Sartre in Cairo

22 November 2018
No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre and Decolonisation 
by Yoav Di-Capua.
Chicago, 355 pp., £26, March 2018, 978 0 226 50350 9
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The Stillborn: Notebooks of a Woman from the Student-Movement Generation in Egypt 
by Arwa Salih, translated by Samah Selim.
Seagull, 163 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 0 85742 483 9
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... and Jewish friends left him incapable of committing to either Israel or the Palestinians. He wasn’t the only French writer to experience the conflict as a ‘personal tragedy’: so too did Pierre Vidal-Naquet, a son of Holocaust victims who had helped lead the campaign against torture in Algeria, Jean Daniel of Le Nouvel Observateur and Eric Rouleau of Le Monde – to say nothing of Jewish radicals like ...
5 April 2012
The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir 
by Claude Lanzmann, translated by Frank Wynne.
Atlantic, 528 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 1 84887 360 5
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... was bound to follow and that Israel would call it ‘terrorism’. The messianic zeal with which Israel rushed to conquer and colonise the West Bank soon troubled Jewish liberals like Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Jean Daniel, the editor of the Nouvel Observateur, but Lanzmann’s attachment to Israel only grew fiercer. After the Six-Day War, Lanzmann returned to Israel. He spent time with troops on the ...

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