Perhaps you've read Maureen Dowd's Times column on the "nouvelle vague" of French melancholia. The fact that this has some elements of truth leaves me a bitter taste. I battle every day with our national pessimism syndrome, which harms us more than the real state of things does.
When I told a French friend I was writing a book about his compatriots entitled Joie de Vivre, he smiled and asked "Is it fiction?" Yet another French friend reacted with a pained look, lamenting that "we used to have it."