Friday, January 28, 2005

This week - not unlike the three previous ones - has been very productive. Yesterday alone I made 1585 digital photocopies of French-Jewish periodicals of the years that I am working on. I had to stop because I ran out of memory cards ( 4 x 256 MB ). After taking such pictures I download them to my laptop, give each photo a name specifying the periodical ( or archive, file etc. ), page number and - if known - a date, and in a very systematic way I organize everything into folders, which I put on CD-ROM. This week I worked on different archives at the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the Musée de la Résistance and the Archives Nationales. Working at the AN is still a bit complicated but I just decided not to give up and with the help of some of the archivists I finished a large number of files this week. This morning I also worked there, and after having had a photocopy place for two hours this morning I made a reservation for another hour in the afternoon. Tomorrow morning I will have another two hours, which normally should mean that I will be able to finish almost all of the files that I am allowed to work on with my digicam. Among the documents collected this week there are some true gems, which will be of vital importance for my research. Three more weeks like this and I am going back home, via my parents in Holland, where I will spend one more wonderful weekend before seeing my wife and our children again. Next week my brother will come over to Paris. That will be the only weekend that I will spend - partly, on Saturday I will work at the AN, to optimally use my time - as a tourist. I hope the weather will be better then than today. For the first time since I arrived in Paris it has been drizzling all day. By the way, I am reading right now "Friend or Foe", an "Anglo-Saxon history of France" by Alistaire Horne. In spite of its flaws I very much liked Horne's classic on the Algerian War ( A Savage War of Peace ), which is why I bought his latest, so prominently displaced at the W.H. Smith English bookstore in the Rue de Rivoli. This book is very badly written, and its editors should be fired immediately, with all the mistakes and the many bad sentences the book contains. All the time Horne makes unnecessary, unhistorical and sometimes totally wrong comparisons between different historical periods, his comments are often off the mark. A passage such as the following would be forgiven if the rest of the book was brilliant, but - you already might have guessed - it is not, at least not in my humble opinion: "Apart from the eyes, and the sensual lips, Louis' ( i.e. Louis XIV ) most striking feature was his long, beaked and powerful nose. Some historians reckoned that, through his Aragon ancestors, he had both Jewish and Moorish blood."

No comments: