Pinagot : sensory perceptions in the service of history

"Le monde retrouvé de Louis François Pinagot" can be read as a detective novel. Alain Corbin, a historian, takes part in this work in search of the environment of a perfect and total unknown, sabot manufacturer by trade, in the nineteenth century, in the center of France.

"Le monde retrouvé de Louis François Pinagot" by Alain Corbin

"The Young Sabot Maker" Henry Ossawa Tanner  (1859–1937)
The Young Sabot Maker" Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937)

This reading was recommended by Ivan Jablonka (thank you!) In Vallouise, in the Hautes Alpes, during a literary meeting in February 2017. Jablonka speaking of his book "Laëtitia or the end of men" explained to have inspired the approach of Corbin. Describing the lives of people, but not only through dates and events, but also through a series of sensory perceptions: smells, sounds, lights, tactile sensations, etc.

This book participates in a certain way (even if Corbin seems to be defending it ?) To this historical current of micro history, studying the daily life of individuals and not of large human groups through dates, events or mass phenomena . These two angles of analysis seem totally complementary for a fine understanding of History.

Alain Corbin therefore decided to go to the archives of the Orne (France) on 2 May 1995 at 15:00.
"With my eyes closed, I seized one of the volumes of the inventory of the archives ... my hand thus chose the commune of Origny-Le-Butin ... I opened the tables of the state Jean Courapied (!) and Louis Francois Pinagot. Here I intervene: Jean Courapied died young, and choosing him would deprive the game of any interest. Rest Louis Francois Pinagot ... "

From this, Corbin, without describing in detail the personal history of Pinagot, too little available material, draws a very precise portrait, based on numerous factual scientific elements of the "recovered world of Louis François Pinagot".

This book of History would almost be a profiling, in the police sense. The author revolves around his subject and analyzes all that can be, thanks to deductions starting from archives.

The reader is immersed in the life of a simple man, illiterate, working in the woods and making hooves, crossing all the highlights of his time as well as the more classic events of life love life, children, family and village relations, etc.).

Hutte de sabotiers en forêt (carte postale Emile Hamonic (1861-1943), vers 1900) Hut in the forest: postcard Emile Hamonic (1861-1943), circa 1900.

An extract relating to the use of clogs:

"The sabot imposes a gesture, a somatic rhythm ... In the winter, the straw that is put in it holds warm." In the summer, the fern is lighter and refreshing. shoe, it releases the nudity ... The sound space of the countryside sounded clicks of this marker of the other and self ... On occasion the hoof constitutes a formidable weapon ... "

We find ourselves, to our delight, a little like invisible ghosts traveling in the past, in the middle of this life that should have remained forever totally anonymous and forgotten.

Illustrations : Henry Ossawa Tanner "The Young Sabot Maker" - Emile Hamonic "Hutte de sabotiers"

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