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Ego-Histoire and Beyond: Contemporary French Historian-Autobiographers

Jeremy D. Popkin
French Historical Studies
Vol. 19, No. 4, Special Issue: Biography (Autumn, 1996), pp. 1139-1167
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/286667
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/286667
Page Count: 29
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Ego-Histoire and Beyond: Contemporary French Historian-Autobiographers
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Abstract

Normally, few historians choose to publish accounts of their own lives. Since 1980, however, many noted French historians have broken this taboo and written essays or full-length autobiographies explaining how their lives have been related to their work. Philippe Aries and Pierre Nora have provided an important theoretical framework for such enterprises, often labeled ego-histoires. The late Annie Kriegel's eight-hundred-page volume, probably the longest and most detailed historian's memoir ever written, has tested the extreme limits of its possibilities. Postmodern attacks on the very possibility of autobiography now pose new challenges to historians who undertake such projects, as the case of Elisabeth Roudinesco demonstrates. By their experiments with the autobiographical genre, our French colleagues have once again extended the range of possibilities for all historians.

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