The French character

From "The Habit of Democracy" by Adam Gopnik in the 15 October 2001 issue of The New Yorker, a review of two books about Alexis de Tocqueville:

At a deeper level, too, [Tocqueville’s] turn of mind was French: witty but humorless, indifferent to empirical details, constantly searching for the lucid abstraction, what he called the "general idea."