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Preface B UREAUCRACY” : a term still up to date after more than two centuries, and whose fashion shows no sign of going out of style. On the contrary, with the passage of time and as modern societies grow paradoxically more complex and more fragmented, so much the greater grows the equivocal, evocative power of the concept of Bureau­ cracy: it has profound resonance, often provoking a disturbing unease. The philosopher Claude Lefort is correct in observing that, Fallen onto the common ground between Political Sociology, Theory of History, and Theory of Public Opinion, fully sanctioned by the success it has been granted, the concept of Bureaucracy remains nevertheless so imprecise in its application that we continue to inquire, with good reason, as to the identity of the phenomenon that it presumes to designate.1 Since the very beginning of the “ Bureaucratic phenomenon” and the discourses it has generated, however, the path has been laid and the signs posted to help us combine various methods in order to comprehend the phenomenon in all its social, political, and literary ramifications. Baron Grimm wrote to Diderot in July, 1764, We are obsessed by the idea of regulation and our Maîtres de requêtes refuse to understand that there are an infinity of things in a great nation with which the government should not occupy itself. The late Mr. Goum ay had the habit o f saying that “ in France we have a national malady: Buromania.” 2 The “ ideal/typical” territory to be studied was already delineated here, and a year later in another letter Grimm specifies that the true spirit of the Law, in France, is the Bureaucracy. The offices, the clerks, the secre­ taries, the inspectors, the superintendents, are not employed for the benefit of the public interest. Rather, in practice, it seems the public interest is instituted so that these offices may exist, (ibid., 98) The genealogy and the very identity of a concept destined for such a remarkable career are marked from the beginning by close contact between Literature and Politics, between Art and Social Science; a trade­ mark that lasts into our own day. After Grimm and Diderot came Honoré de Balzac, Karl Marx, Gustave Flaubert and, in this century, Vol. XXXIV, No. 1 5 L ’E sprit C réateur Max Weber, Franz Kafka, and Robert Musil, to name only a few sublime examples of the “ literature of Bureaucracy.” And why should it not be so? The anguish of any society can be found in its literature, often before and more clearly revealed than in its social sciences. It is not the goal of this collection o f essays to determine whether the literary fortune of the concept of Bureaucracy, inaugurated with such distinction and a long time ago by François Rabelais, is a reflection—to borrow a term from Lukács and the Marxist critics—or rather, to use a more “ up-to-date” literary expression, a prophetic anticipation, of a new social configura­ tion. It is in fact precisely in the difference and in the radical distance between Literature and Social Science—in their methods, their language, in their aims—that, paradoxically, their common interest is revealed in their mutual attempt to comprehend the “ Bureaucratic phenomenon.” Scientific analyses, political imagination, harrowing doubt(s), individual behaviour and collective passions, all measure themselves on the same terrain, the reaction of people to the new way of living called “ M odern.” Thanks to and through his exploration of the terra incognita of Bureau­ cracy, we are able to discover a new dimension in the archaeology of our late modernity. Marco Diani Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales CADIS-CNRS Notes 1. Claude Lefort, Eléments d ’une théorie de la bureaucratie (Paris: Gallimard, 1977), 23. 2. Grimm-Diderot, Correspondance littéraire, philosophique et critique (1753-1769) (Paris, 1878), VI, 30. 6 Sp r in g 1994 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 5-6
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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