Is France truly a unique nation among nations ? | Financial Times
Nations are addicted to narratives. They all have them, yet each thinks theirs is the only one that counts. The British used to read Our Island Story — the hoary best-seller whose chronicling of stirring events and great men and women from Albion to Queen Victoria introduced generations of British schoolchildren to history. (David Cameron once claimed it was his favourite childhood reading.) Across the Channel, books like the so-called petit Lavisse did much the same thing, recounting the whole great sweep of what the French term the roman national from the days of the Gaulish general Vercingetorix to the French Revolution and its aftermath.
These days a pretty good litmus test for where people stand on the cultural divide in France is whether they regard the roman national as something to be revived or dismantled.