Open main menu

Marc BlochEdit

Marc Bloch: "one of the most influential historians of the twentieth century" and "the greatest historian of modern times"? Or a "flawed" and "mediocre theoretician"? Perhaps all and none of these things, but best summed up as "Frenchman and Jew, scholar and soldier, staff officer and Resistance worker".

And one who, in the small beer that is Wikipedia, I think deserves the best we can do him for. So—with an eye on further promotion—as of last December, I expanded this to this. It then received a touch of GoCE in January and started the Mother of all GA reviews about the same time. This is now completed, and I think we're ready for the final push.

All comments and suggestions welcome. On y va! ——SerialNumber54129 08:58, 25 June 2019 (UTC)

CaeciliusinhortoEdit

Comments up to the end of First World War:

  • "[it] was doubtless from him that Marc Bloch derived his interest in rural history and in the problem of from the Roman world": I think you are missing a word here...
    • Done.
  • "Gustave began teaching Marc history while he was still a boy, with a secular, rather than Jewish education intended to prepare him for a career in professional French society.": comma after "Jewish"?
    • Done.
  • "Bloch's later close collaborator, Lucien Febvre, visited the Bloch family at home in 1902." A little abrupt. Do we know why?
    • Tragically, I can't find anything else out about this visit; but I've added a quote from Febvre regarding it which should round it out a little?
      • A shame we don't know more, but I like the Febvre quote!
  • "The latter generation included nationalist Boulangists and crises such as the Panama scandals": wikilink Boulangists and Panama scandals?
    • Done.
  • "and the ENS particularly": who or what are the ENS? And why do they matter?
    • Explained, his father's employer.
  • (and while we are on the subject, ÉNS and École Normale Supérieure both get their acute accent[s] intermittently: be consistent!)
    • Well spotted! Think I've caught them now,
  • "He highly respected the then-French specialty of historical geography" I suspect that this is meant to mean that historical geography was a speciality of French historians at the time, but it took me a couple of reads to parse it.
    • He had high respect for the then-current French speciality—better?
      • I thought about it and came up with He had a high respect for historical geography, then a speciality of French historiography – what think you?
  • "This was nicknamed the Nouvelle Sorbonne by contemporaries..." this note seems to be misplaced: I would expect it at first mention of the Fondation
    • Moved.
  • Given that the section on early life makes much of how the Dreyfus affair soured Bloch's views of the French army, it is striking that there is no further comment on this when he volunteers in 1914. Why did he volunteer to fight for an army which he considered a bastion of "snobbery, anti-semitism and anti-republicanism"?
    • Not as easy to answer as I thought! I assume that it was a case of the chips being down; but I've added a quote which hopefully clarifies his thoughts on the army.
      • I think adding the Bloch quote is on the whole an improvement here.
  • "Apart from the Marne, Bloch fought at the battles of the Marne" one of these "Marne"s is presumably intended to be something different?
    • Shouldn't have been there at all!

More tomorrow... Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 20:58, 25 June 2019 (UTC)

Comments on Career:

  • "Bloch was appointed chargé de cours": course director? Probably worth glossing an unfamiliar term in a foreign language...
    • Linked and sourced.
  • "Alsace had been returned to France with the Treaty of Versailles and was a contentious political issue in Strasbourg, its capital": somewhat confusing sentence. Grammatically, "Alsace" is the object of "was a contentious political issue", but I suspect that either the return or Alsace to France or the Treaty of Versailles were actually the contentious issue?
    • Yes, linked to Alsace-Lorraine crisis of 1918.
  • "He ignored the 1923 occupation of the Ruhr": what does this mean?
    • Well, he didn't take a public position on the crisis: hopefully now clarified.
  • "At Strasbourg he again met Febvre, who was now a leading historian of the 16th century." Not sure that wikilinking historian to Modern history is helpful here.
    • Delinked.
  • "Braudel later described the journal's management": this is, I think, Braudel's first mention: introduce him? At least give his full name and wikilink him, but it's probably worth mentioning his own position as a leading Annales historian after the second war.
    • Done.
  • "Braudel and Bloch, "promising to perform all the burdensome tasks" themselves, asked Pirenne to become editor-in-chief of Annales to no avail": I may be wrong, but my understanding was that Braudel came to the Annales school later: do you mean Bloch and Febvre?
    • D'oh! Of course.
  • "Braudel and Bloch were both firmly on the left, although with different emphases. Febvre, for example, was more militantly Marxist than Bloch, while the latter criticised both the pacifist left and corporate trade unionism." Again: do you mean Febvre rather than Braudel?
    • Ditto!
  • "although Stephan R. Epstein of the London School of Economics": this introduction should probably go with the earlier reference to Epstein
    • Done.
  • "where they were chaperoned by Gino Luzzatto." as Luzzatto is a redlink, maybe at least mention that he is another historian?
    • Added a non-false title, also a footnote mentioning their previously-existing relationship.

Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 20:52, 27 June 2019 (UTC)

On Second World War and Major Works:

  • "he saw as being worse, for both France and the world, than her previous defeats at Waterloo and Sedan." It may be my British education talking, but I did not think that the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo was generally considered to be bad for the world
    • I think it is :) the precise quote is [The Historian's Craft] is the outpouring of a brilliant, anguished patriot who analyzed a calamity that exceeded Waterloo, Sedan, and even Diem Bien Phu, in its consequences for France, Europe, and the world. I guess it's easy for us to forget that in France Napolean was (and may well still be?) treated as a national hero who rescued France from the bloodshed of The Terror and led her back to the high road of glory with a nice packed lunch, as MacAdder might say.

Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 21:04, 3 July 2019 (UTC)

  • "but in her failure to motorise, and perhaps more importantly, to fail to understand what motorisation meant": I think this should be "...her failure to understand..."
    • Done.
  • "[after Bloch's death] Febvre continued publishing Annales": had it gone back to being called Annales? Or was it still Mélanges?
    • To clarify, I've added a short footnote pointing out that by now it was on its fourth name :)
@Caeciliusinhorto: thanks for all your comments, some of them made me sweat! ;) But I think I've addressed them: all good stuff though and much appreciated. Let me know if I've misunderstood you at any time though! Cheers, ——SerialNumber54129 14:50, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
By the way, I apologise for the tardiness with which I replied to your review, which is no reflection on it—I didn't have the time to devote to it properly until now, but I should have kept you updated, sorry about that. ——SerialNumber54129 14:56, 7 July 2019 (UTC)
No worries. I still owe you comments on three further sections at any rate! Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 18:58, 8 July 2019 (UTC)

Okay, two more down. Only Legacy to go!

  • "Bloch self-described his area of study": simply "described"?
Done.
  • "why he did not distinguish himself as a medievalist": unusual verb - I would say "identify".
Good choice, and of course avoids repetition.
  • "he saw sources as witnesses, "and like most witnesses", he wrote, "it rarely speaks until one begins to question it"." The number agreement goes a little awry here: "sources" in the plural, but "it speaks" in the singular.
Tricky; I've had to change my bit to he described a source as a witness, because MB's words is are verbatim. Still clunky though...
Hmm, you are right that it's a tricky one. I might consider he saw sources as witnesses, "and like most witnesses", he wrote, "[a source] rarely speaks until one begins to question it", but it's not obvious what the best wording is here. I do like the Bloch quote, though; it would be a shame to lose it!
  • "he considered that they treated historical research as being little more meaningful than detective work" / "he viewed historians as detectives who gathered evidence and testimony": it feels jarring that at the beginning of this section, Bloch is apparently scornful of historians who view history as 'nothing but detective work', but five paragraphs on he himself views history as detective work!
  • "Bloch's favourite metaphor for how technology impacts society was the watermill." This is more an example than a metaphor, surely?
Indeed!
  • "Bloch told Etienne to attempt always to avoid what Bloch termed "contaminated females"": what did Bloch mean by "contaminated females"? Women as a class? Sex workers?
Probably the latter, but actually the source is not explicit:

His sexual advice to his adolescent son was based on the “principle of a sound body and spirit" (the avoidance of contact with 'contaminated females”) and on reconciling “the problem of the physical and the sentimental".

Ah, if the source is not explicit, then there's only so much we can do.
  • "Eugen Weber has suggested that Bloch was probably a monomaniac": does Weber really say monomaniac?! The 19th century wants its dubious psychiatry back!
    • Heh :) yeah, you're right to do a double take! But the complete quote is

      But in considering Marc Bloch's achievements‚ [ am inclined to think that only through a mixture of monomania and unusual facilities could he have achieved so much research and reading, so much thinking and writing, while simultaneously preparing the annual lecture courses [etc.]

      I guess, being Weber, either write floridly or not at all! More seriously, perhaps I should provide the whole quote in Weber's words so readers can judge for themselves as to whether he's being deliberately provocative/hyperbolic?
      • I would be inclined to quote Weber at greater length here. I suspect Weber is not literally diagnosing B. with monomania, but commenting on his ability to focus obsessively on his work.

Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 19:31, 8 July 2019 (UTC)

Thanks Caeciliusinhorto, you raise some tricky points! I've tried to address them, but I would value a second opinion on a couple of them (talking of opinions, I wonder how to encourage more of them here?!). Cheers, ——SerialNumber54129 10:29, 9 July 2019 (UTC)
Okay, replied inline to a few of your trickier points. In re. encouraging more opinions, I suspect Bloch is a little historiographically dense for a lot of people – he's not the easiest sell for a peer review! Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 19:50, 9 July 2019 (UTC)

Final push on Legacy:

  • "he would have stood to be appointed": is "he would have been appointed" a simpler way of saying the same thing?
  • Le Pen quoted Strange Defeat in 2007: Bloch must be spinning in his grave!

Whew. An enormous, exhaustive article – but a fascinating one, and on an important historian. I'm not touching image use, and I'm not familiar enough with Bloch to comment properly on comprehensiveness (but it certainly seems comprehensive, and the sources cited are certainly appropriately scholarly), but the writing is clear and there are no obvious neutrality problems. It certainly looks like it's in pretty good shape for a run at FAC. Do ping me if you nominate it there! Caeciliusinhorto (talk) 20:11, 9 July 2019 (UTC)