Mollier, Jean-Yves 1947-

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Mollier, Jean-Yves 1947-

PERSONAL: Born November 5, 1947, in Roanne, France; son of Roger and Cobret (Raymonde) Mollier; married Annie Lambert; children: Isabelle, Aurelien.

ADDRESSES: Office—Centre d'histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines, Université de Versailles, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: University of Versailles, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, professor of history.


(Editor) Dans les bagnes de Napoléon III: mémoires de Charles-Ferdinand Gambon, Presses Universitaires de France (Paris, France), 1983.

Michel et Calmann Lévy, ou, La naissance de l'édition moderne, 1836–1891 (title means "Michel and Calmann Lévy, or the Birth of a Modern Publishing House"), Editions Calmann-Lévy (Paris, France), 1984.

(Editor and author of introduction, notes, and commentary) Lettres inédites de Ernest Renan à ses éditeurs Michel et Calmann Lévy (title means "Unedited Letters from Ernest Renan to His Editors Michel and Calmann Lévy"), Editions Calmann-Lévy (Paris, France), 1986.

(With Mauricette Berne and Michel Brunet) Une Aventure d'éditeurs au XIXe siècle: Michel et Calmann Lévy (title means "An Editors' Adventures in the Nineteenth Century: Michel and Calmann Lévy"), Bibliotheque Nationale (Paris, France), 1986.

L'argent et les lettres: Histoire du capitalisme d'édition, 1880–1920 (title means "Money and Literature: A Capitalist History of Publishing"), Fayard (Paris, France), 1988.

Le Scandale de Panamá (title means "The Panama Scandal"), Fayard (Paris, France), 1991.

(Editor, with Stephane Michaud and Nicole Savy) Usages de l'image au XIXe siècle (title means "The Usages of Images in the Nineteenth Century"), Editions Creaphis (Paris, France), 1992.

(With Jocelyne George) La plus longue des républiques, 1970–1940 (title means "The Longest Republic"), Fayard (Paris, France), 1994, 2nd edition, 2001.

(Coeditor) Pierre Larousse et son temps (title means "The Life and Times of Pierre Larousse"), Larousse (Paris, France), 1995.

Le commerce de la librairie en France au XIXe siècle, 1789–1914 (title means "The Bookstore Business in Nineteenth-Century France"), Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (Paris, France), 1997.

(With Sylvie Aprile, Raymond Huard, and Pierre Lévêque) La révolution de 1848 en France et en Europe, Éditions Socials (Paris, France), 1998.

(With Christian Amalvi, Marie-Christine Chaudonneret, and Alice Gérard) L'abécédaire de la république et du citoyen, Flammarion (Paris, France), 1998.

Louis Hachette, 1800–1864: Le fondateur d'un empire, (title means Louis Hachette: Founder of an Empire), Fayard (Paris, France), 1999.

(Editor) Oú va le livre? (title means "Where Does the Book Go?) La Dispute (Paris, France), 2000, revised edition, 2002.

Presse et événement: journaux, gazettes, almanachs XVIIIe-XIX-siècles, Lang (New York, NY), 2000.

Les mutations du livre et de l'édition dans le monde du XVIIIe siècle à l'an 2000, Presses de l'Université Laval (Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, Canada), 2001.

Lecture et ses publics à l'époque contemporaine: essais d'histoire culturelle, Presses universitaires de France (Paris, France), 2001.

(Editor, with Jacqueline Pluet-Despatin and Michel Leymarie) Belle Epoque des revues, 1880–1914, Editions de l'IMEC (Paris, France), 2002.

(Editor, with Patricia Sorel) Les lectures du peuple en Europe et dans les Amériques (XVIIe-XX-siècle), Éditions Complexe (Paris, France), 2003.

Camelot et la rue: politique et démocratie au tournant des XIXe et XXe siècles, Fayard (Paris, France), 2004.

(Coeditor) Goncourt dans leur siècle: un siècle de "Goncourt," Presses universitaires du Septentrion (Villeneuve d'Ascq, France), 2005.

(Editor, with Pascal Durand, Pierre Hébert, and François Vallotton) Censure et imprimé: Belgique, Québec, France, Suisse, XIXe-XXe siècles, Nota Bene Editions (Quebec City, Quebec, Canada), 2005.

(Editor, with M. Reid and J.C. Yon) Repenser la restauration, Nouveau Monde (Paris, France), 2005.

(Editor, with Diana Cooper-Richet and Ahmed Silem) Passeurs culturels dans le monde des médias et de l'édition en Europe (XIXe et XXe siècles), Presses de l'ENSSIB (Lyon, France), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: French historian Jean-Yves Mollier has made a career of chronicling the development of the publishing industry in France. With complete access to the archives of the Calmann-Lévy publishing house, Mollier was able to construct a detailed account of that publisher in Michel et Calmann Lévy, ou, La naissance de l'édition moderne, 1836–1891. Although, according to Peter Fawcett, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Mollier was not able to trace the personal background of the founding publisher, Michel Lévy, or "bring his main protagonist to life," the work is "of immense historical erudition and constitutes a major contribution to socio-economic research." "One's only quibble is that Mollier tends to obscure the main lines of his argument beneath superfluous detail. There is much here that would have been better relegated to footnotes," added Fawcett.

Mollier followed this case study with a broader examination of the leading Parisian publishers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: L'argent et les lettres: Histoire du capitalisme d'édition, 1880–1920. Mollier used legal, financial, and commercial records to show how at this time publishing became a capitalist enterprise and numerous small publishers combined to become the giant companies that existed throughout the twentieth century. More than just commercial history, the work "makes as significant a contribution to literary history as to economic history. It calls into question a good many ideés reçues [givens] about individual publishers and publishing and about particular authors and French literary culture," noted Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson in the American Historical Review. As in Michel et Calmann Lévy, "Mollier relishes detail," commented R.N. Gildea in the English Historical Review. "The book is a cornucopia, and my only reservation is that it overflows with minutia, sometimes making the shape of the argument difficult to see." Gildea stated: "It is a magnificent achievement, a tour de force, and a valuable bridge between the world of art and the world of money." Likewise, Ferguson concluded: "This book is an outstanding work. It is indispensable for the history of publishing, vital for a full appreciation of writers' positions in the literary field, and important for a better understanding of nineteenth-century French society."

As editor, Mollier compiled thirty eight articles by historians, philosophers, literary critics, and booksellers in Le commerce de la librairie en France au XIXe siècle, 1789–1914. The contributors treat such topics as pricing, trade unions, specialty booksellers, and foreign markets. Although most essays deal with the nineteenth century, the last pieces deal with book-selling in the twentieth-century arena of superstores and in competition with videocassettes. As in previous works by Mollier, the amount of material is extensive. Thus, as Graham Robb of the Times Literary Supplement noted, though "expertly edited," the volume is of limited use. "The simple statistical aid of an index would have been useful. Without it, this admirably precise and selectively exhaustive volume is a vast warehouse in which particular items can only be found accidentally or by inspecting the entire stock."

Other topics of interest to Mollier have included the Panama Canal scandal and political history. With Jocelyne George, Mollier penned the volume La plus longue des républiques, 1870–1940, a sympathetic study of the French Third Republic that focuses on national integration. H.S. Jones gave the work qualified praise in the English Historical Review. "Whether their book genuinely succeeds is questionable, since the two authors have really put two half-books end to end, the divide occurring in 1918," Jones commented, adding: "But their book is full of insight and is more successful than many such general histories at integrating the insights of cultural history within a broad political framework."

With Le Scandale de Panamá Mollier shed light on the questionable activities of the Panama Canal Company during the 1880s, when it attempted to raise capital to pay for the construction of the canal across the isthmus of Panama. "Mollier's massive study is more than a lengthy retelling of a sensational and sordid story," noted James F. McMillan in the Times Literary Supplement, citing the author's "impressive research" in many archival resources. Mollier used the Panama scandal to demonstrate the political and business ethics of the era. Some critics praised the work highly. "Although the scandal has been the subject of previous studies, Jean-Yves Mollier's book … is by far the most comprehensive," reported William D. Irvine in the American Historical Review. "The breadth of Mollier's study is at once a strength and a weakness. His documentation is both exhaustive and, at times, exhausting. His endless digressions will weary all but the most attentive readers," wrote Irvine, who was seconded in this view by A.S. Kanya-Forstner in the English Historical Review. Despite its flaws, Irvine called the study "superb" for its portrayal of French politics and business and "an important contribution to the still imperfectly understood history of late-nineteenth-century France." Kanya-Forstner predicted that interested readers would find "much in this book to titillate, to amuse and to instruct."



American Historical Review, April, 1990, Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, review of L'argent et les lettres: Histoire du capitalisme d'édition, 1880–1920, p. 514; October, 1992, William D. Irvine, review of Le Scandale de Panamá, pp. 1319-1320.

English Historical Review, January, 1992, R.N. Gildea, review of L'argent et les lettres, pp. 252-253; November, 1994, A.S. Kanya-Forstner, review of Le Scandale de Panamá; February, 1997, H.S. Jones, review of La plus longue des républiques, 1870–1940, pp. 252-253; September, 1998, Robert Tombs, "Les representations de l'affaire Dreyfus dans la presse en France et a l'etranger," p. 1022.

Times Literary Supplement, April 12, 1985, Peter Fawcett, review of Michel et Calmann Lévy, ou, La naissance de l'édition moderne, 1836–1891, p. 412; October 4, 1991, James F. McMillan, review of Le Scandale de Panamá, p. 10; September 25, 1998, Graham Robb, review of Le commerce de la librairie en France au XIXe siècle, 1789–1914, p. 34.