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Reviews269 figures . . ." and this study was undertaken to remedy the silence. I had not really noticed the silence, but this remedy is noisy and uninterestingly written, with only the advantage of being impassioned in its advocacy of Marxist thought. I wish such passion were attached to a zippy style, more remarkable or less known facts, and a more "modern" view of what is — or so I think — going on in France. City University of New YorkMary Ann Caws The Intellectual Resistance in Europe, by James D. Wilkinson; ? & 358 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981, $20.00. Charles Dickens characterized the French Revolution as the best of times and the worst of times. Some Europeans might have applied the same description to the years of World War II. They believed that the death and destruction visited on their countries would be at least partially atoned for by the social and political renewal that would follow in the wake of the Fascist defeat. Most European intellectuals loathed the corrupt pre-war bourgeois capitalist order. They became convinced that it could not survive the bombs and the guns. A new and more just society must replace it. Their anticipation was based on the unique experience of occupation and resistance. "The Resistance offered a model for the social order to be created after the war — one in which individual freedom would coexist with social justice, human dignity would be accorded new respect, and the bonds formed in the underground would encourage trust and openness among citizens from all classes" (p. 1). The writers, artists, and thinkers expected to play leading roles in the creation of diis new society. They were of course to be disappointed when dieir dreams and aspirations were ignored or attacked by those who came to power in the years following Hitler's suicide. James D. Wilkinson, professor of history and literature at Harvard University, chronicles the Odyssey of those he calls "resistance intellectuals," to distinguish them from the resistance fighters, though those two categories sometimes overlapped. He surveys the war and the postwar period in France, Germany, and Italy, indicating that, despite differences , the intellectuals in these three nations shared the same hopes and frustrations. Clearly written and well researched, Wilkinson's book is a model of intellectual history. The author's command of his vast amount of source material is impressive. He is equally enlightening whether describing the development of Sartre's thought, the novels of Ignazio Sifone, or the works of Heinrich Boll. The book abounds with literary insights such as his discussion of the reasons why Camus's plague analogy, while it does not work as an allegory for the occupation, is a telling commentary on the nature of modern bureaucratic systems. Wilkinson's sympathy for the men and women he treats never gets in the way of his clear-headed analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. The postwar enthusiasm rather quickly turned to frustration and disappointment when the intellectuals found themselves confronted by a series of insurmountable barriers. Most oftheir fellow citizens longed for a return to normalcy and, as economic reconstruc- 270Philosophy and Literature tion quickened in the late 1940s and early 1950s, materialism proved too strong an alternative to the vision ofthe poets and philosophers. The breakdown ofdie wartime coalition affected politics in all the European states and prevented the building of die new political structures envisaged by die intellectuals. In a short time diey found themselves once more in dieir accustomed roles as social critics. Professor Wilkinson argues diat although the desired new society did not come into being, the spiritual legacy of the resistance survived and contributed to such developments as the European Economic Community and the decolonization movement. This is certainly debatable. Factors other than the ideals developed during die resistance played important causative roles in these events. The failure of the intellectuals to see their hopes become reality forces the reader to wresde with the perennial problem of the relation of ideas to politics. The Intellectual Resistance in Europe is an important book. Informative and intellectually stimulating, it should be of interest to anyone concerned with the ideas and movements that have helped to shape diis alternately horrifying and promising century...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 269-270
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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