Chapter 11: Concerning the Year in France
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12 part one | intellectual biography philosophizing through my time in America and especially in Wisconsin . The priorities and relations of importance between various theories had been fundamentally changed—­ and, so far as I can see, changed for the better. Chapter 11: Concerning the Year in France After the two years in America, the Rockefeller Foundation was kind enough to extend the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship for another year to continue my studies in France. I accepted the opportunity with the idea of enlarging my horizon by living in France for a year and finding out firsthand what points in French culture were relevant for a political scientist. The field for studies was wide open. I attended courses in the law school, especially with a French economist named Albert Aftalion, and I attended the lectures of the famous Léon Brunschvicg, the Pascal scholar. In the beginning my studies were somewhat hampered because I had a reading knowledge of French but not a really good knowledge of a more complicated vocabulary. I remember reading the Trois Contes by Gustave Flaubert, which was quite an ordeal because Flaubert’s vocabulary is enormous, and I had to use a dictionary in practically every sentence. But reading authors who have a large vocabulary is the only way of building up a knowledge of a language. At the time, there was an irresistible attraction in Paris—­ that is, the flood of Russian refugees. I happened to get acquainted with quite a few of them and understood the necessity of learning Russian in order to have access to the political materials. So I started on it with Konstantin V. Mochulski and G. Lozinski as teachers. The work with these two excellent philologists continued practically through the whole year, and I got far enough to be able to read Dostoevsky. Unfortunately, I have forgotten most of what I learned because in the practice of my work I had later too little occasion to deal with Russian sources. But the main area of studies, of course, was French literature and philosophy. Good guides for introducing myself to the problems of these fields were the works of Albert Thibaudet on Mallarmé and Valéry, and of René Lalou on the history of French literature in general and on the history of the novel in particular. I acquired 13 autobiographical reflections in this year in Paris a practically complete set of the important French prose literature from La Princesse de Clèves by Madame de La Fayette to the work of Marcel Proust, whose last volumes of À la recherche du temps perdu were coming out at the time. Marcel Proust, like Flaubert, was an inestimable source for enriching my French vocabulary. René Lalou’s De Descartes à Proust was of fundamental importance for my understanding of the continuity of French intellectual history. Here I found the French history of consciousness that runs parallel to the history of consciousness in English and American philosophy from the eighteenth century to the present. Through both Thibaudet and Lalou my attention was directed especially to Mallarmé and Valéry. At this time I assembled my almost complete collection of the works of Paul Valéry, several of them in first editions that now have become valuable. I had occasion to see Valéry when he gave an after-­ dinner talk at some meeting connected with the League of Nations. What interested me most about him at the time, besides the fact that he was a great artist , was his Lucretian philosophy, which I understood as a parallel phenomenon to the Lucretianism of George Santayana. The poem with which I fell in love particularly was the “Cimetière Marin.” The opportunity of spending a year in Paris of course was also used, so far as means permitted, to see the surroundings. I remember my first great impression of Chartres and a trip in summer to the remnants of the monasteries in Normandy. In the background, of course, were my studies in the French theory of law, especially of Léon Duguit. At that time I got my first acquaintance with the French problem of solidarité. Curiously enough, I was not yet attracted to the work of Henri Bergson, though I was already familiar with his Matière et Mémoire and his Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience. My real interest in Bergson only grew with the publication of his Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion in...