Paris, La Decouverte, 2009

One aspect of this book is the concept of literary space, developed from Bourdieu’s analysis within the particular framework of Europe. In relation to the definitions of intellectuals, this book confronts the question of whether one can define European intellectuals as such, or are intellectuals individuals separate from each other, and finally, even assuming that there are intellectual groups, to what extent international communities are functional in Europe?

In the INTRODUCTION, Sapiro observes that the economic and administrative construction of Europe does not have an equivalent configuration on a cultural level (p. 5).

In the 19th century the national seemed to prevail over the international. However, towards the end of that century and in the 20th century, a number of factors encouraged internationalization. Among such factors one may include socialist internationalism, pacifist humanism, post war reconstruction mentalities, collective movements such as 1968, and so on (p. 7).

Language has played a relevant role in the construction of intellectual national identities rather than internationalising them. In addition, a specific European identity is not particularly developed as part of the school curricula, and so it would seem to remain not especially explicit.

There was nonetheless an emergence of the intellectual as a supra-national model for several countries (for instance Sartre in the 1940s and 1950s).

As Sapiro observes in her essay L’INTERNATIONALISATION DES CHAMPS INTELLECTUELS DANS L’ENTRE-DEUX GUERRES; FACTEURS PROFESSIONALS ET POLITIQUES (pp. 111-46), one is left to wonder, though, if a specifically European intellectual space can be found in other fields than that of the intellectual as an inspirer of thought and a figure of prestige as it used to be the case with figures such as Thomas Mann in Germany or Elio Vittorini in Italy.

On her part Anna Boschetti observes that after 1945 there have been a number of similarities and differences among critical intellectuals in various countries of Europe, and the circulation of works beyond the borders of single countries has played a relevant role (p. 152). She mentions attempts at inter-European intellectual collaboration around some projects of journals (for example collaboration between the French “Temps modernes” and the Italian “Il Politecnico” in the 1940s). In recent decades, Boschetti notes, an interest seems to have been general among intellectuals of various parts of Europe for universal values and various aspects of democracy (p. 180).

Interestingly, some of the essays in this book are about translation as a means on which ideas circulate and can unify intellectuals in different European regions. Furthermore the logical context of globalisation is taken into account, and perhaps this is the future, a wider space which extends beyond Europe but within which European intellectuals can play a relevant role.

[Roberto Bertoni]