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Marius Barbeau A glimpse of Canadian Culture (1883-1969)
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Barbeau's Story

Studies Overseas (2)

After the first term, five weeks holiday. I wanted to enrol at the Sorbonne in Paris and take courses. Marett approved. He had a profound admiration for the Durkheim school, for their "Sociology Year" in particular. I went to the Sorbonne, but I could get into the classroom of Professor Émile Durkheim only once. The classroom was full; I had to remain standing. An old man hunched over his papers, whom I had trouble understanding. I went to the École des Hautes Études, in the same building. I had much more satisfaction there. Professor Marcel Mauss interested me more than Henri Hubert. The latter spoke of the Alstadt period in archeology (Austrian); Mauss, about magic; Professor Tontain, about the great Greek gods. I did not like Hubert because he was long drawn out, talked too much, and he demolished the work submitted by one or two of his students.

Form, Unity (why not say Art) reigned throughout this Faculty. I was not displeased. It was so French, compared to Oxford, which was empirical. Just between you and me, I needed Oxford much more than Paris for my education. Then Mauss became interested in me. He kept me in back, at the exit, and had me walk with him in the Jardins de Cluny. He liked to have news from Oxford. Later, the conversations would continue: He had me lunch with him and he asked me if I liked escargots. Rashly, I said yes. But I had never eaten them before and I hated them. Fortunately, on that day the waiter did not have any! On another day, when I apologetically invited Mr. Mauss to have lunch with me. With an air of reproach (gentle), he told me, "No, mana descends, but it does not go back up". In both his classes and his writings, he loved so much to talk about mana, orenda, cherished theories of school professors who had never done any field work.

I diligently followed the lectures from the School of Anthropology, which was near Boulevard Saint-Germain. The professors there delivered well prepared, written, knowledgeable interesting lectures: De Mortillet (Adrien), Carthailhac (Émile) (on the caves and the Magdalanian period), Regnault (Félix), on the Berber, he spoke in meridional. The class was always full with the regulars. In Paris, once again, it was always a lecture delivered from the lectern. Not at Oxford. Art by the noteworthy Salomon Reinach. I had enough of that there to keep me busy.

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