This essay will examine Delbo’s opposition to the Algerian war, with emphasis on Les Belles Lettres and other texts in which she refers to that destructive conflict. Les Belles Lettres was published in 1961, as the Franco-Algerian conflict had reached its peak and the network of suitcase carriers led by Francis Jeanson had been dismantled. Delbo selected letters penned by participants in the debate on the Algerian war and published in the French press between 1959 and 1961. She carefully laid out and annotated these letters so as to reveal the troubling political reality of the time. We will first address the author’s denunciation of the exceptional measures adopted by the French state in order to bring the fight for independence to a halt, as well as the lack of enthusiasm on the part of leftist parties and the general population to oppose them. Subsequently, we will analyze the questions that arose from the French army’s use of torture. We will then seek to understand the bold parallel Delbo makes between crimes committed by the French government and its army during the Algerian conflict and the crimes committed by Nazis against Jews and members of the Resistance during WWII.


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pp. 112-124
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