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L ’E s pr it C r éa teu r La Littérature française sous l’Occupation. Actes du Colloque de Reims, 30 septembre2 octobre 1981. Reims: Presses Universitaires de Reims, 1989. Pp. 351. Yves Ménager, in his preface to this collection of twenty-nine articles, indicates the goals of the colloquium in which they were presented—to allow witnesses of the Occupa­ tion to relate their experiences and to further the study of a period that is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. Essays by René Tavernier, Pierre Seghers and Georges-Emmanuel Clancier promote the first objective. Tavernier deplores recent attempts to rehabilitate “ la pensée fasciste” (130) and speaks of his role in the review Confluences, published in Lyons during the Occupa­ tion. He raises an issue that returns in several papers, namely, that espousing the values of prewar French culture constituted a sort of resistance, since “ la culture et la littérature n’avaient pas démérité” (134). Seghers echoes this esthetic strategy, noting that wartime poets often expressed humanitarian values through literary themes only indirectly related to the Occupation. Clancier, describing the spirit of freedom that animated the review Fontaine, published in Algiers by the poet Max-Pol Fouchet, defines poetry of all periods as resistance against the “ monstres qui sont dans l’homme, prêts à le détruire” (153). Most articles, however, address the second objective, the literary study of the period. The collec­ tion covers writers of the Resistance—Camus, Paulhan, and Vercors, among many others —as well as collaborators like Brasillach, Drieu, and Rebatet. Articles are also devoted to writers whose position is more difficult to characterize—Artaud, Aymé, and Giraudoux, for instance. Combat, Seghers’s P.C. series, and other periodicals receive attention. Most essays situate writers within a personal or historical evolution. Joseph Jurt’s arti­ cle on Bernanos’s wartime writings and broadcasts evaluates the role a conservative author in exile played in the Resistance. Jean-Marc Morjean, in “ Camus ou le prix des m ots,” traces the writer’s itinerary from Algeria to France, and posits a change in Camus who, if he was not the earliest or, until 1943, the most involved of the écrivains résistants, did evolve a coherent ideological position. The articles on the whole are balanced, analyzing dispassionately the merits and demerits of the writers in question. Jean Touzot, whose article is exemplary in this respect, considers Mauriac and Duhamel as representatives of the literary Resistance within the French Academy, noting that Mauriac was the object of frequent attack in publications like Je Suis Partout. However, Touzot does not mitigate Mauriac’s earlier pro-Vichy positions. The papers in the last half of the collection deal primarily with the sociology of litera­ ture under the Occupation. Ingrid Galster examines archival dossiers relating to the Propaganda -Staffel’s control over French theatre. Annette Fuchs sees the best of French post­ war theatre—Barrault and Vilar—as being the result of the youth movement during the Occupation, though not directly a product of the théâtres-d’essai sponsored by Nazi and Vichy authorities. Gérard Loiseaux examines a survey of French collaborationist literature published in 1942 and written by Bernhard Payr, the head of the Berlin office overseeing literary production in Germany and France. The best essays in this volume adopt historical approaches. Some relate to one author— Picard on Vailland’s evolution toward resistance, Leclercq on Supervielle’s Argentinian exile, Séailles on Guéhenno’s stance during the Occupation, and Lahanque on Aragon’s attitude toward socialist realism during the war and afterwards. Other analyses relate to the greater context of the period—Debreuille on the new poetry occasioned by Breton’s depar­ ture for the United States, Balilas on the question of prewar writers’ responsibility for the defeat of 1940, and Hofer on the idealized image of Nazi Germany in the works of Brasillach and Rebatet. De Beauvoir, Giono, Malraux, M ontherlant, and Sartre, among others, receive only passing mention, but gaps are inevitable in a colloquium treating an era so important. 120 Sp r in g 1993 B o o k R ev iew s Nevertheless, this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 120-121
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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