Reconsidering Marc Bloch's interrupted manuscript: Two missing pages of Apologie pour l'Histoire ou Metier d'Historien

The European Legacy 3 (4):32-42 (1998)

?History is the most dangerous compound yet contrived by the chemistry of intellect?: it was in response to these words by Paul Valéry that Marc Bloch, professor of economic history at the Sorbonne, after the defeat of 1940, began writing a book on ?how and why history is studied.? He gave it the provisional title Apologie pour l'Histoire ou Métier d'historien translated into English as The Historian's Craft. In the spring of 1944, he was killed by a German firing squad for his clandestine activity in the Resistance. The manuscript of his book remained incomplete. Having entered the world at the same time as the research organization of Annales in 1949, Bloch's book on history, posthumously published by Lucien Febvre, was read and used as a product of that organization, which did not yet exist, even as a project, at the time the book was written. The Historian's Craft was read mostly by historians, history professors, and history students. Despite its readership, Bloch had written it for a different public: persons of culture and action, that same audience that Annales had tried in vain to conquer in the thirties?Paul Valéry's public. The study of the genesis of the interrupted manuscript reveals the richness of the content of Bloch's book, so far underrated. This example of the two pages missing from the 1949 edition, can today be the start of a deeper meditation on history, historians, and philology (and on the documents that refer to them)
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DOI 10.1080/10848779808579898
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