________ (1993). Intellectuals in the Middle Ages. T. L. Fagan, trans. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
defense. An interest in novelty ... can be an
In pursuing this line of analysis, we must be careful not to fall into the same error. Jacques Le Goff is a distinctive individual, not simply a consequence of the political and intellectual experience of wartime and postwar France. Fernand Braudel, coming out of the same milieu, exalts in his own way in the concrete and the specific; he brings the dusty accounts of sixteenth-century merchant ships alive. In his work we find the vitality that Le Goff's lacks. This can only reflect highly individual differences in their attitudes and outlooks. Nevertheless, Le Goff's shortcomings as a medievalist may be attributed, in important ways, to the circumstances of his time and place.
instrument of renewal, an historical agent ...
But the removal of the Papacy to Avignon and its subsequent return to Rome did not take place in an abstract, symbolic world. It was bound up in an intensely political issue: would the Papacy, having previously resisted the attempted domination by the German emperors, fall under that of the French monarchy, or would it retain its independence? To relegate the facts of the Avignon papacy to the status of "adventitious reasons" is very nearly to remove history itself from the study of history. The world has been largely shaped by such "adventitious" events.
It will be noticed that both of the above passages deal in one way or another with France. In Le Goff's treatment of the Avignon, the French monarchy and its relationship to the rest of Europe disappears; in his discussion of university culture, it is the rest of Europe itself that disappears. Le Goff is of course a Frenchman, and a contemporary Frenchman, and it is to his background and experience that we now may turn.
International Who's Who, 1993-94 (1994). London: Europa Press.
Now, the debate between the "Great Man