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Book Title: The Peasants of Languedoc|
The author of the book: Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Edition: University of Illinois Press
Date of issue: January 1st 1977
ISBN 13: 9780252006357
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.44 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.5
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Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, the author of "The Peasants of Languedoc," is a French historian whose works have had considerable exposure in English. The fascinating "Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error" (and alternate titles; 1975, translation 1978) may be the best-known of his works, as well as the most controversial among historians, based as it is on village gossip recorded by Inquisitors. Perhaps more representative are detailed studies of a popular demonstration / riot in "Carnival in Romans" ("Le Carnaval de Romans," 1979), and of folktale themes as transmitted in popular and literary versions from the south of France, in "Love, Death and Money in the Pays D'Oc" ("L'argent, l'amour et la mort en pays d'Oc," 1980), in which social stresses and personal anxieties come together.
Underlying much of this production, however, and perhaps giving Ladurie the confidence to interpret the notoriously difficult inquisitorial records, is this less-inspiring sounding early work, "Les Paysans de Languedoc" of 1966, here translated under an equally plain and literal title, which appeared in English only three years after the original French edition. In any case, it clearly underlies his later investigations of provincial culture and society.
This is a sophisticated analysis of primarily economic records from one of the traditional provinces of southern France, covering mainly the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. It deals with the basics of ordinary life -- production, consumption, property, and taxes, and how they interacted. There are interesting confirmations of what can go wrong when people act without much guidance from economic theory in determining self-interest. For example, wide-spread cutting of wages in a time of rising prices reduced income and purchases, ultimately putting meat beyond the reach of most consumers. This was a catastrophe for some of the same employers, who were cattle-raisers (or owners of grazing land) with a diminishing market. (If I understand Ladurie's tables and charts correctly -- and this involves some interpretation on the part of a non-professional -- the typical response to their falling profits was to cut wages again, again reducing the cash in circulation, and reinforcing the cycle in a time when markets for most goods, especially perishable ones, were strictly local.)
It is definitely not light reading, but Ladurie is not above adding characterizations (such as "tight-fisted fellows") to otherwise anonymous groups of property-owners and employers, sacrificing a little of the appearance of objectivity for the sake of human interest. Generally speaking, Ladurie draws such positions from the hard data, and the attentive reader may well reach the same conclusion; I remain happier about the practice from a literary point of view than an historical one.
"Peasants of Languedoc" represents a major move toward understanding the history of people left out of official histories, although the original description as "total history" is rather misleading. Taken together with Ladurie's later cultural studies, however, it does mark a considerable advance.
This review by Ian M. Slater "aylchanan" was copied from Amazon.com. (There was no prior default book description.)
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Read information about the authorEmmanuel Le Roy Ladurie is a French historian whose work is mainly focused upon Languedoc in the ancient regime, particularly the history of the peasantry.
Emmanuel Ladurie is professor at the Collège de France and, since 1973, chair, department of history of modern civilization. He has had a distinguished career, serving as Administrateur Général of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (1987-94); member of the Institute (Academy of Moral and Political Sciences); Agrégé of the University, Doctor of Letters; Commander of the Legion of Honor (1996); and has taught at the universities of Montpellier, the Sorbonne, and Paris VII. Dr. Ladurie is the author of many historical works, including Les Paysans de Languedoc (1966), Histoire du Climat depuis l'An Mil (second ed., 1983), Montaillou, village occitan (1975), Le Territoire, de l'Historien (2 vols., 1973, 1978), Le Carnaval de Romans, 1579-1580 (1980), L'Etat royal (1987), L'Ancien Regime (1991), Le Siècle de Platter (1995), and Saint-Simon, le systeme de la Cour (1997).
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