French intellectuals

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Robert Zaretsky writes about French intellectuals for LARB:

"As Shlomo Sand suggests in his new book [La fin de l'intellectuel français? (The End of the French Intellectual?)], the French intellectual was never what he was cracked up to be."

"Sand devotes much energy," writes Zaretsky, "to scraping the mythic veneer off the heroic phase of French intellectuals:"

From these less than rarefied summits, the career of the French intellectual careens from one historical pothole to another. Consider Julien Benda's celebrated 1927 book-length essay La Trahison des clercs (The Treason of the Intellectuals). The veteran Dreyfusard lambasted those fellow "clercs" who, having descended from the heights of truth and justice, had become shills for political parties. True intellectuals, he declared, are immune to "political passions" and dedicated to a "realm not of this world." Finishing his days as a Communist fellow traveller, Benda himself never escaped this world's gravitational pull.

Most thinkers do not, but must we not still try?

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 10, 2017 2:03 PM.

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