An interesting story in the Guardian today about the latest round of self-flagellation by the French. Le Figaro has been running a series on what it means to be French with contributions from 40 philosophers, politicians, academics and writers. Here's a typical contribution: "How is it that such a brilliant nation has become such a mediocre power, so out of breath, so indebted, so closed in its own prejudices ... To be French today is to mourn for what we no longer are." And depressed comments like this have led to even more depressed comments over the fact that these French thinkers all seem so depressed.
I don't know, but it seems to me that if you want examples of plucky self-confidence, perky joi d'vivre, and sunny optimism, French intellectuals are a bad place to start.