Reviewed: How the French Think by Sudhir Hazareesingh
Keen-eyed aficionados of Left Bank culture will recognise the handsome, louche figure presented in all his hirsute, pensive glory on the cover of this engaging, accessible book. It pays homage to the great French fondness, or indeed duty – in everyday life, not merely among the intelligentsia – towards embracing a certain philosophical spirit.
Flicking his hair and cigarette with studied insouciance, cover star Bernard Henri-Lévi embodies the notion of a valued ‘intello’ in France– but as this book explains – it’s usual for the French to have heated debates about abstract theories or discuss universal solutions to life’s ‘big questions’.
Hazareesingh’s superbly researched work traces the history of this spirit, from Descartes, Rousseau and Voltaire to latter-day politicians who talk of France’s ‘great destiny’. Read this excellent book and next time you witness vigorous finger-pointing in a bistrot, you’ll know why the subject being debated is likely to be very lofty indeed!
How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectural People by Sudhir Hazareesingh. List price $30. Published by Allen Lane,
From France Today magazine
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