Mediterranean

March 8 2012

John F Guilmartin, review of David Abulafia, The Great Sea, A Human History of the Mediterranean, OUP, 2011, in The American Interest, March/April 2012. How it differs from Braudel.

The bay of Carthage

Braudel’s main works:

La Méditerranée et le monde Méditerranéen a l’époque de Philippe II, 3 volumes, 1949 (The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II; there is also a one-volume abridgement)

Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècle, 3 volumes, 1967, 1979, 1979 (Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century)

L’identité de la France, 2 volumes, 1986 (unfinished, posthumous) (The Identity of France)

Grammaire des civilisations, 1987 (a world history, posthumous) (A History of Civilizations)

Les mémoires de la Méditerranée, 1998 (posthumous) (The Mediterranean in the Ancient World)

“[W]hen I think of the individual, I am always inclined to see him imprisoned within a destiny in which he himself has little hand, fixed in a landscape in which the infinite perspectives of the long term stretch into the distance both behind him and before.” (The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World)

2 Responses to “Mediterranean”


  1. Few accept the fact that the Mediterranean has always been a great cultural divide and not at all a unit. This has been the case since prehistory. There is a Mediterranean attitude shared by all the nations around this sea, but it consists of almost entirely negative aspects: the repression of women, fatalism, immature behaviour of men. They, however, are not exclusively Mediterranean.

    The northern shore differs from the southern since the latter has been influenced by south western Asia. Persian and later Sassanian culture, for example, reached as far as Morocco and this is why Islam conquered this area easily. It is a complex story, never told since never understood because of prejudice. Even Braudel missed the point.


  2. […] a 1996 talk given at the Institute of Historical Research on Fernand Braudel (bibliography) in 2013; it’s a pity he is not a slightly more engaging […]


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