Braudel, the Historian as Dramatist
Fernand Braudel died on November 28th, 1985, at the age of eighty-three. The following day this was the first item on the French news bulletin. Newspapers and periodicals, of all political persuasions, devoted considerable space to praising the achievements of this historian. The well known phrases, those that had been circulating for some time, were repeated. He was 'le roi Braudel'; had there been a Nobel prize for history he would have been the first recipient; he was the greatest historian of his time, and his book The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the age of Philip ll (first published in 1949) was the most important work of history to be published in this century. As Victor Hugo had been born in 1802 ('ce siecle avait deux ans') and Braudel had been born in 1902, and as they both died at the age of eighty-three it was not difficult to claim that Braudel was the Victor Hugo of history. Some people even referred to him as 'the Pope of history', an honour which Braudel, understandably, disliked.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man - is this the secret of Braudel's fame as the Victor Hugo of French history?
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