Prickly Paradigm #48
From the Maquis to the Polis
Jean-Pierre Vernant (1914–2007) was one of most important intellectual figures of modern France, well-known for his structuralist approach to Greek myth and tragedy. Taking the form of an interview with the notoriously private French classicist and anthropologist, this volume relates the story of Vernant’s remarkable career, revealing deep continuities across his life and intellectual work. During his time at university, Vernant became involved with the Communist party. In the 1940s, he joined the French Resistance, serving first as a soldier and, later, as the pseudonymous “Colonel Berthier” in charge of forces in the Haut-Garonne. After the war, Vernant had a distinguished academic career, capped by a prestigious professorship at the Collège de France. With an insightful preface by renowned historian François Hartog, this volume composed in Vernant’s own words makes clear the continuity of the themes of warfare and political change across his work, including a fascination with Achilles and the concept of the heroic death, offering insight as well into his important cultural influences.