Belief in the possibility of a revolutionary transformation of French society sustained much of the political and cultural ferment in France in the quarter century following the end of World War II. Perry Anderson, in two articles published in the London Review of Books, argues that the decline of this faith has cast a pall over France, and he traces this decline in large part to the work of historians François Furet and Pierre Nora. It is argued here that Anderson neglects broader economic, societal, and cultural forces that combined to undermine belief in the transformative power of revolution and is therefore led to an unduly pessimistic interpretation of the cultural turn of the 1970s.

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