In Résurrections de Michelet. Politique et historiographie en France depuis 1870 Camille Creyghton traces the afterlife of the French Historian Jules Michelet in the historical discipline and in politics. In so doing, the book sheds a new light on the role national history plays in French political culture since the 19th century.
The national commemoration of the centenary of Michelelet’s birth in 1898 marked his canonisation as a national historian. More than a century after that event, he is still part of French collective memory. Politicians of almost all political tendencies mention him occasionally and he remains a classical author for historians too. Being a central reference for the historical self-representation of the French Republic, his work has been celebrated, criticized, parodied and instrumentalised for a wide range of aims.
Camille Creyghton pursues Michelet’s symbolical “resurrections”, from the editorial politics of his widow Athénaïs, the readings different generations of historians and politicians made of his work, those by Roland Barthes in the 1970s, until the establishment of a specialized branch of literary studies.
Résurrections de Michelet thus offers new insights into the role national history played by national history in French political culture since the nineteenth century, and the dynamics between professional history writing and the political uses of history.