Bourbaki, A Mathematician from Poldavia
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France, 1930s. In spite of the fact that many years had passed, France was still in shock over the horrendous massacre that bloodied Europe between 1914 and 1918. One million three hundred thousand dead, three million maimed and wounded, eight hundred thousand widows, almost a million orphans. This kind of tragedy couldn’t help but affect all aspects of a nation’s life. Of course, the handing down from generation to generation of mathematics (as of all sciences in general) was of course drastically disrupted as well by the great war. In the halls of the Grandes Écoles hung enormous plaques with endless lists of students and professors who had died in the trenches. An entire generation had been swept away: of 211 students enrolled in the École Normale in 1914, 107 died in the war.