This essay explores how previous understandings of Bruno's most celebrated text have tended to assimilate authorial intent with the traditional interpretation of Republican modernization. Early readings of the Tour de France were coloured by a largely uncritical acknowledgment of the extent to which the Third Republic had revolutionized education and forged a new and durable sense of national identity. But historians emphasize that change rarely took place in the short term, and Bruno is similarly indicative of the complex compromise that was worked out between the Republic and the religious establishment, and between regional and national identity in the years 1870–1914. This essay uses the work of Michelet and others to demonstrate the co-existence in the Tour de France of Romantic, religious and modernist narratives of the nation.

Author notes

1University of Manchester; email: j.a.strachan@stud.man.ac.uk