Understanding / Annalesf History
Maurice Aymard and Harbans Mukhia (eds.), French Studies in History, Vol. I, The Inheritance, 1988, 335 pp., Rs. 120, 1989 reprint paperback, Rs. 60 and Vol. II, The Departures, 1990, 496 pp., R^. 195, paperback, Rs. 105, Orient Longman, New Delhi.
The two volumes of the French Studies in History are collections of celebrated articles/excerpts from books by the Annales historians of France.1 Each volume has an introductory essay by the editors, which puts the contributions in perspective by tracing the development of the Annales historiography. The departures' are more thematic than chronological, as they refer to the spurt in the writings on mentalities, marginal/deviant groups, etc., from 1960 onwards.
A good number of contributions appear for the first time in English, translated by Monica Juneja (mostly), Rashmi Patni, Lotika Vardarajan and Harbans Mukhia—this will make the anthologies useful everywhere. However, the French Studies seems to be meant preeminently for Indian readers, given its publication in India and with the assistance of the French embassy at New Delhi, the inclusion of several essays that have long been available to—and discussed among—English readers outside India, and the Indian collaboration. It is thus the first welcome effort to bring Indian historiography in the ever-widening network of influence of the Annales school. Maurice Aymard has undertaken a task for India which other Annalistes have been doing for other countries since the late sixties (though not always in the same way). He could hardly have found a better collaborator than Harbans Mukhia who has recently addressed himself to strengthening 'new history' in India. Well-rounded in its choice of material, moderately priced and superbly produced, the French Studies can only be highly recommended; its initial success is already apparent from the fast coming of the paperback reprint^.
While the papers, arranged under different themes with lucid introductory notes,2 give a first-hand taste of Annales history writing, readers are likely to appreciate them in the overall context of the editorial Introductions.3 This holds for all such introductions, here specially for two reasons. The first is the by-and-large insulation of
* Department of History, A.R.S.D. College, Dhaula Kuan, Delhi University, New Delhi.
Sodal Scientist, Vol. 18, No.4, April 1990