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Reviewed by:
  • Penser l’après Louis XIV: histoire, mémoire, représentation (1715–2015) ed. by Sven Externbrink and Charles-Édouard Levillain
  • Michael Sonenscher
Penser l’après Louis XIV: histoire, mémoire, représentation (1715–2015). Sous la direction de Sven Externbrink et Charlesdouard Levillain. (Les Dix-huitièmes siècles, 203.) Paris: Honoré Champion, 2018. 322 pp.

This is a far more wide-ranging and thought-provoking collection than its rather low-key title suggests. Its seventeen contributions cover a range of subjects between the early eighteenth and the early twenty-first centuries and a variety of different approaches to the history and historiography of Louis XIV, his office, and his power. Its content is structured chiefly by the centuries-long clash between evaluations of Louis XIV as either the principal architect of the first modern European state or the original source of the mixture of centralization at home and imperialism abroad that, subsequently, became one of the hallmarks of modern social, economic, and political life. Some of the contributions to the collection take this antithesis as their starting point, usually with the aim of explaining its origins and of examining its salience, as in the essays on Challe, Saint-Simon, Voltaire, Montesquieu, by Claire Quaglia, Delphine Mouquin de Garidel, Marc Hersant, and Catherine Volpilhac-Auger respectively. Other, such as the contributions by Stephen Sawyer, Jean Leduc, Isabelle Rochefort, and Guy Rowlands on Louis Blanc, Ernest Lavisse, François Mignet, and discussions among twentieth-century British and American historians of the reign of Louis XIV, have set out to move beyond the binaries by examining a range of alternative approaches to the history and historiography of the French state during and after the reign of Louis XIV. Almost all the contributions, however, centre on questions arising from the relationship between the French monarchy and posterity, whether in France, as in the contribution by Allan Potofsky, or in the Netherlands and the German-speaking parts of Europe, as in the chapters by Christophe de Voogd and Christian Kühner, on Johan Huizinga and on Louis XIV in German-language historiography respectively. In this context, the chapter by Paule Petitier on Louis XIV in the historiography of the French Second Empire stands out because its focus falls as much on the relationship between the French monarchy and its past, as construed notably by Quinet and Michelet, as on the French monarchy and its future, as examined most famously by Tocqueville. From this perspective, the monarchy of Louis XIV had as much to do with imperial Rome as Catholic France and a legacy that was as salient to nineteenth-century arguments between classicism and romanticism as to later discussions of free trade, collective associations, protectionism, and socialism. As is usual in volumes such as this, some subjects are covered more fully than others, but this particular collection makes it easier to see why the legacy of Louis XIV continued to remain alive long after the French monarchy had been consigned to the past. [End Page 632]

Michael Sonenscher
King’s College, Cambridge
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
p. 632
Launched on MUSE
2020-02-18
Open Access
No
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