As Solid as the Alps or the Pyrenees

Jean Guéhenno, Diary of the Dark Years 1940–1944 (tr. David Ball): “I told them that this year’s work would have a still more serious meaning, that my job was to teach them France and French thought — that is, something which, as skeptical as I may be about history, seems to me as solid as the Alps or the Pyrenees; this solidity would be our guarantee and nothing and nobody could make France something different from what she was, and luckily her history could not be changed; I told them that Montaigne, Pascal, Voltaire, Michelet, Hugo, and Renan were its guardians, and that consequently, according to the law of my profession and out of simple honesty and faithfulness to myself, to Europe, and my country, I would speak to them as I had always spoken. I told them victory would not have changed anything in my way of thinking, so defeat could not change it, either.”