Wednesday, August 01, 2007
by Lucien Febvre (Author), Beatrice Gottlieb (Translator)
Allan A. Tulchin "historian" (Washington DC, (USA)) - It's a realy pity this is out of print, because it's fabulous. The Annales school is known for social history, but Febvre was at least as competent as an intellectual/cultural historian, and this is a masterpiece. The thesis is that Rabelais was an Erasmian humanist, and that this was on the one hand a view of Christianity that had wide tolerance for things we wouldn't expect, but on the other he wasn't an atheist, although he was accused of it--atheist was just an all-purpose insult at the time. For Febvre, real atheism was simply unthinkable--it hadn't been invented yet. To understand Febvre's argument, it helps if you're read Rabelais, of course. The translation is particularly good, and the translator has helpfully tracked down missing references (the book was written during WWII, so Febvre had difficulties with those) and has an index... so in some ways it's better to own this translation than the French original.
I am trying to find more info on Febvre.