Zeldin's masterpiece is "A History of French Passions" (originally published as "France, 1848-1945" in the Oxford History of Modern Europe), an idiosyncratic work examining the ambitions and frustrations, intellectual and imaginative life, tastes and prejudices of a vast range of people. The idea of France as a common unity is not easily discernible in this multi-volume book, and there is very little about politics in the conventional sense, although there are essays on the national appeal of Bonapartism and other cultural elements of French national politics.
The Oxford Muse Foundation (www.oxfordmuse.com) was formed by Zeldin in 2001. It describes its aims as being "to pioneer new methods to improve personal, work and intercultural relationships in ways that satisfy both private and public values." One of its principal projects is the Muse Portrait Database. Individuals are free to submit their own self-portraits, including whatever they want the world to know about them. However, many of the portraits are written by another person in the "voice" of the subject, as the result of a conversation between the two. The Oxford Muse claims that, through such conversations, it can help people "to clarify their tastes, attitudes and goals in many different aspects of life; and to sum up the conclusions they have drawn from their experiences in their own words." A selection of these portraits can be found in "Guide to an Unknown City" (2004), which contains the writings of a wide variety of Oxford residents, and in "Guide to an Unknown University" (2006), which, Zeldin claimed, 'allowed professors, students, alumni, administrators and maintenance staff to reveal what they do not normally tell one another.
In 2007, Zeldin was appointed to a committee advising the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy on labour market reforms.
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