Ernest Renan was one of the intellectual giants of the second half of
the nineteenth century in France, the man who first opened up the
study of nationalism. In this book, Shlomo Sand, the author of the
best-selling The Invention of the Jewish People, demonstrates the
complexity of Renan's thought. Sand shows the relationship of Renan's
work to that of key twentieth-century thinkers on nationalism, such
as Raymond Aron and Ernest Gellner, and argues for the continued
importance of studying Renan.
Alongside his essay,
Sand presents two classic lectures by Renan: the first, the renowned
"What Is a Nation?", argues that nations are not based upon
race, religion, and language; in the second he uses historical
evidence to show that the Jews cannot be considered a "pure
ethnos." On the Nation and the ‘Jewish People’ is an
important contribution to the understanding of nationalism, bringing
back into play the work of a profoundly misunderstood thinker.