Vichy

Beyond the Syndrome Syndrome?

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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Henry Rousso’s The Vichy Syndrome (1987) has changed the way many people think and write about France since 1940. Yet it is likely that the term “syndrome” (from the Greek sundromos or “running together”) in his title remains a provocation because it invokes a pattern of behavior linked to disease and abnormality By extension, it conveyed an implied accusation—perhaps even an indictment—concerning an inability on the part of France as nation and society to confront the nature of the 1940-1944 period. Among historians, debate on the data or evidence that the concept of syndrome might legitimize or even privilege with regard to the writing of history added to questions about what had prompted Rousso to level this critique against colleagues in the discipline.

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