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La Mémoire vive et convulsive: The Papon Trial and France's Passion for History

Nathan Bracher
The French Review
Vol. 73, No. 2 (Dec., 1999), pp. 314-324
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/399165
Page Count: 11
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La Mémoire vive et convulsive: The Papon Trial and France's Passion for History
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Abstract

This article studies the Papon trial and the debate surrounding it as an example of France's intense relationship with its past. While many hailed the trial as a milestone in France's attempt to deal with the legacy of Vichy, this essay argues that the heated historical debate stirred up by the Papon case in fact tells us more about the France of the 1990s than about the Dark Years. Similarly, the rhetorical exchanges occasioned by the commemoration of other dramatic events such as the Dreyfus Affair reveal that political dogma and Manichaeism prevail over careful historical examination.

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