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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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... 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 Atlantis was inspired by the lost Minoan ...

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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... 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 Times, for example) to reanimate the red ...

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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... the Jews than their German masters required them to be, the recollection of how the late Pierre-Mendès-curieusement-surnommé-France was ostracised and the allegations of racialism loudly voiced against the French Communist Party, make an affirmative answer distressingly plausible. Stephen Wilson’s large and learned book, in which he studies the ...

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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... 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 broader or more specific historical ...

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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... be that Moulin worked with Communists in the late 1930s when he was an aide to the Air Minister Pierre Cot, who became an open supporter of the Party after 1945. He would then have become less enthusiastic about Communism after the fall of the Popular Front Government (which put an end to Cot’s capacity to advance his career) and, more important, after ...

Radical Mismatch

Stephen Holmes: Cold War Liberalism, 4 April 2024

Liberalism against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times 
by Samuel Moyn.
Yale, 229 pp., £20, October 2023, 978 0 300 26621 4
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... writings were on 20th-century French intellectual history: erudite studies of Emmanuel Levinas, Pierre Clastres, Claude Lefort, Pierre Vidal-Naquet. But he always had an interest in foreign policy as actually practised and in 1999, while still a graduate student, he interned at Clinton’s National Security ...

Dynamo Current, Feet, Fists, Salt

Adam Shatz: What did you do in the war?, 18 February 2021

Papa, qu’as-tu fait en Algérie? Enquête sur un silence familial 
by Raphaëlle Branche.
La Découverte, 512 pp., £21.50, September 2020, 978 2 7071 9878 5
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... contemporary accounts of torture and assassinations by leading anti-war militants, in particular Pierre Vidal-Naquet and Henri Alleg.The title of Branche’s new book – Papa, qu’as-tu fait en Algérie? – suggests a continuation of this muckraking, but the subtitle points to a shift in focus: ‘An Inquiry into a Family Silence’. Branche’s aim ...

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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... 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 Rodinson and the Trotskyists Marcel ...

Nothing he hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been

Adam Shatz: Claude Lanzmann, 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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... 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 border with Egypt during the War of ...

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