Connie Ruzich, a WWI poetry blogger, recently highlighted on Twitter a historic newspaper clipping that will put the travails of academe into perspective. Getting a Ph.D. is always hard. But hard is relative.
Case in point…
100 years ago, Pierre Maurice Masson, a young scholar, found himself fighting in north-eastern France. Drafted in 1914, Masson rose through the military ranks, moving from sergeant, to sub-lieutenant, to lieutenant. Meanwhile, in the discomfort of the trenches, he continued working on his doctoral thesis–a long dissertation on the religious training of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. By the spring of 1916, he had completed the text, corrected the proofs, and drafted an introduction (of course, that comes last). Finally, he announced to friends, “The monster is ready!” And he sought a leave of absence to return to the Sorbonne to receive his doctorate.
Alas, that didn’t happen. The newspaper clip above tells the rest of the poignant story.
You can read Masson’s posthumously published thesis, La formation religieuse de Rousseau, free online.
If you’d like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.