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Shades of Indignation
Political Scandals in France, Past and Present
236 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-84545-365-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2007)
eISBN 978-0-85745-538-3 eBook
“[the author]effectively demonstrates that the changing perception of scandal in France derives from [the] fundamental shift in the relationship of the state to its citizen.” · American Historical Review
At the end of the twentieth century France found itself in the midst of another scandalous fin de siècle, awash with rumors and revelations of wrongdoing in high places. As the millennium expired, the Republic’s servants, some sitting, others retired, received much condemnation, whether welcomed or resented. When taken together, surely les affaires now approximate in political significance (if not in noise or invective) those of the Dreyfus or Panama scandals a century ago? Yet the author argues this is not so. Today, treason has vanished and is slowly giving way to a transgression different in kind, but equivalent in gravamen: the crime against humanity. Corruption is far from disappearing, yet now it inspires resignation rather than indignation - and as such, it has lost its power to scandalize. Jankowski claims that such transformations tell a tale. The state that once aspired to pre-eminence as the sole magnet of loyalty, touchstone of probity, and guarantor of right, has yielded significant ground to the individual who is now more likely to elevate his own dignity and cry scandal on his own behalf. [In these times,] Individualism is de-politicizing the group and [ultimately] diluting the mystique of France, the nation-state par excellence.
Currently Ray Ginger Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Brandeis University, Paul Jankowski is the author of Communism and Collaboration. Simon Sabiani and Politics in Marseille, 1919-1944 and of Stavisky. A Confidence Man in the Republic of Virtue. He was educated in Geneva, New York, and Balliol College, Oxford.