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Le maurrassisme et la culture. Volume III

Olivier Dard
Michel Leymarie
Neil McWilliam


Texte intégral

1Grégoire Kauffmann

2From Drumont to Maurras, a lineage in pamphlets

3Recourse to anti-semitic insults, verbal violence, ad hominem attacks, a willingness to encourage partisan violence: Maurras’s polemical style shares much with the work of Drumont. This influence reaches back to the late 1880s, when the young Maurras, then a critic at the Observateur français, praised Drumont’s assaults upon the “Jewish Republic”, capitalist abuses and the deviations of modern society. Throughout his career, he continually alluded to the battles of the “Pope of anti-semitism”, judging, in Léon Daudet’s words, that Drumont’s books “are part of the intellectual baggage of every royalist in the Action française”. Nonetheless, during the 1900s, as his influence within nationalist circles grew, Maurras increasingly insisted on points of difference. A child of the romantic century, Drumont praised the power of the imagination and sensibility, favored intuition over dry intellectualism, and responded sympathetically to a mystical “interior voice” that was superior to reason. There is none of this in Maurras, who criticized the irrational nature of Drumont’s writing, his pessimism, his inability to lay the foundations for a method of coherent action, and, above all, his romanticism. Even in the most aggressive of his editorials, Maurras reveals a cold anger, attempts to rationalize his hatreds and distrusts being carried away by passion: the theoretician always emerges behind the partisan journalist. A polemicist to the core, Drumont shares none of these concerns, as is demonstrated by the unrestrained violence of his writing.

4Philippe Secondy

5Léon Daudet and pamphlets

6An emblematic figure within the Action française, Daudet was a prolific writer, publishing 128 books and thousands of articles. Defining himself as a “cultural historian” of his era, Léon Daudet paints a highly colored picture of political and cultural relations during the Third Republic. In this paper, which explores the years before World War One, we examine the early writings of Daudet (who was born in 1867), focusing particularly on the “Jewish question”. The Dreyfus Affair is an obsessive theme in which, like his friend Edouard Drumont, Daudet evokes a Jewish plot as a convenient key for understanding developments during “the Stupid Nineteenth Century”. In most of his work, he argues that the “Jewish race”, supported by anti-patriotic intellectuals, lent support to republican government in the virulent political campaigns against the church and the army that were so prominent during the Belle Epoque. The “butchery of 14-18” was said to be directly related to this evolution which Daudet condemned through his commitment to a mix of partisan action and literary attacks.

7Christophe Dickès

8Jacques Banville, a short lived cultural criticism?

9Before emerging as a well-known commentator on foreign affairs or a popularizing and militant historian, Jacques Bainville initiated his literary career with a series of book reviews written between 1901 and 1908. Moreover, his eclecticism also led him towards theatrical revieing, which he undertook during 1912. Bainville’s political circle, seen as part of the extreme right in contemporary historiography, is here reconsidered. The cultural criticism written for a number of journals before World War One offers an obvious example. At once classical and conservative, they also evince appreciation for novelty and originality. They reveal skepticism for the imperiousness and extreme classicism of Maurras, while repudiating 19th-century romanticism, naturalism and sentimentalism. Stylistically, Bainville is at once trenchant, but also capable of finesse and subtlety. Above all, his work reveals a real sensibility apparently missing in his post-war work. Bainville’s example once again confirms René Rémond’s assessment of the complexity of the constitutive members and leadership of Action française.

10Laurent Joly

11Concerning the Revue critique des idées et des livres

12The history of the Revue critique des idées et des livres, modestly launched in April 1908, is closely tied to the two years preceding the Great War, which sealed the success and symbolic recognition of the luxuriously produced review with a print-run in excess of 3,000, and established it as the official mouthpiece for neo-classicism and the only rival of the N.R.F. (several special issues were of particular importance, notably the March 1913 number dedicated to Stendhal, which marks the beginning of Stendhal studies in France).

13This success consecrated the efforts of a group of young intellectuals who frequented the salon of the Comtesse de Courville, a celebrated and influential friend of Barrès and Maurras, and were close to the publication’s editor, Jean Rivain. Born in the mid 1880s, Gilbert, Clouard, Longnon and Marsan belonged to the first generation of disciples around Maurras, the first to regard him as a “Maître”... and the first to break with the Action française.

14This first (and little known) “dissidence” brings into play a classic generational conflict alongside a range of struggles generated by internal ambitions amongst the young Maurrassians. Until 1910, the RCIL was controlled by Georges Valois and his friends, who attempted to make the review a tribune for the rapprochement between anti-democrats of left and right. After 1911, Rivain took control of the RCIL, intending to turn it into a literary and intellectual review of high standing. The political and philosophical excuses that Maurras put forward when he broke with the group in 1914 (Stendhal, the defense of Bergson) concealed personal rivalries and particularly the increasingly deep-rooted antipathy towards a wealthy and arrogant young man who used his success to allow himself to break with the “party line”, generating resentment at the “revue grise” that had been founded by Vaugeois.

15Thomas Roman

16L’Indépendance with or without Maurras?

17L'Indépendance (1911-1913) was one of a number of short-lived reviews to appear during the Belle Epoque. This traditionalist review, edited by Georges Sorel and the young nationalist Jean Variot, warrants examination for two reasons. L'Indépendance despite being a culture and arts journal, was above all a weapon into the political fray of its times, with its evolving anti-modernist message. A study of the review reveals the extent to which all discourse-especially in this milieu and with the Dreyfus Affair in the headlines-was political discourse. A second way that l'Indépendance rewards scholarly attention is with a greater understanding of the difficulty of positioning oneself or one's journal in the polarized Parisian microcosm. L'Indépendance was never able to establish a clear editorial line in an intellectual force field dominated by the magnetism of the Action Francaise and at the same time cluttered with innumerable reviews. Born out of the impossibility of an entente between followers of Sorel and those of Charles Maurras, l'Indépendance would soon die of an overly-close identification with the figure of Georges Sorel and with those that Sorel had labeled "chirping nationalists". L'Action Française was an undeniable force to be reckoned with at the time, developing a sort of contagious aura that infected any entity attempting to position itself independently in the same sphere as the A.F. Sorel's review caught this contagion and succumbed to its own indépendance.

18Patricia Parkhurst Ferguson

19Chronicles of everyday life in L’Action française

20What connects a highly politicized vehicle such as l’Action française to the ordinary, everyday matters that a newspaper necessarily conveys? Are there areas from which politics is excluded or does the political affect every aspect of the medium? A sample of l’Action française culinary and fashion columns from 1908 to 1935 suggests the complexity of any connection. On the one hand, like the advertisements, probably most of these columns have no obvious or even understated political connotations. On the other, like just about every other type of column, both fashion and cuisine lend themselves to strong ideological assertion.

21Although Mme Léon Daudet, aka “Pampille,” does not seemed to have signed any culinary columns for l’Action française, she was associated with both the newspaper and cuisine. Yet, while Les Bons Plats de France (1913, 1927, 2008) fits well with the nationalism espoused by l’Action française, the culinary nationalism (or chauvinism) that Pampille espouses—insistence on the indisoluble tie between cuisine and place, the construction of France through its regions— reaches well beyond this particular medium. In Pampille’s culinary constructions, the country emerging from a devastating war fell back on its traditions. The strength of this culinary discourse lies in its capacity to bring together all parties, all ideologies in a celebration of France.

22Michael Sutton

23Maurrassism and its relations with the philosophies of Bergson and Blondel

24If one considers “maurrassisme” as a set of ideas that includes a political philosophy purporting to carry conviction, it may be considered to have been virtually stillborn, inasmuch as the Positivism of Charles Maurras was not in keeping with the intellectual climate of the day in the early twentieth century. In the years preceding the Great War, for the young generation animated by nationalist or patriotic sentiment — those born around 1890 — there was a choice of “philosophy of action”, either that of Henri Bergson or that of Maurice Blondel. The philosophy of the former rode then on the crest of the wave, whereas interest in Blondel’s philosophy was much more circumscribed. The position changed after the Great War. Bergson’s philosophy lost some of its power of attraction; the influence of Blondel widened; and the Action Française came by the first half of the 1920s to have its own distinguished philosopher in the person of Jacques Maritain, whose Thomism provided some sort of backing for Maurras’s idea of an alliance between Positivists and Catholics. The Vatican condemnation of 1926 deprived the Action Française of this considerable asset. Henceforth, “maurrassisme” lacked any proper philosophical compass.

25Jean-Michel Wittmann

26Gide, an anti-Maurras?

27Maurras’s influence on Gide was ambiguous and relatively prolonged, particularly between their quarrel in 1903 and the publication of Les Faux-Monnayeurs in 1925. As a writer and head of the N.R.F., Gide was forced to define both his ideological and, frequently, his literary position in relation to Maurras and the Action française, within the context of a broader reaction against decadence that served to call into question the very definition of the writer and of literature.

28In 1903 Gide confronted Maurras on ideological terms, in the debate over Barrès’s ideas on “rootedness”. Subsequently, he drew closer to Maurras and Action française, all the time calling for a clear distinction between the art of literature and political commitment. He was strongly attracted by Maurrassism during the Great War, before taking his distance through a re-evaluation of the writer’s role around 1920, and his inventory of Maurras’s ideas in Les Faux-Monnayeurs. Gide’s relationship with him thus precisely follows the general curve of Maurras’s impact on literary and intellectual life from the Dreyfus affair to the mid-1920s.

29Carole Reynaud Paligot

30Maurras and concepts of race

31Maurras was unaffected by the fascination amongst the intellectual community of the fin-de-siècle with the natural sciences, and with racial anthropology in particular. A poet and literary figure above all else, he found literature and the history of civilizations more compelling than the natural sciences. His writings on France’s national origins nonetheless show that he did believe in the existence of a «French race» whose indigenous elements–Celtic and particularly Latin–he describes. Maurras evaluates the contribution of each group’s bloodline, at the same time as their corresponding cultural characteristics, and follows the contemporary paradigm according to which cultural characteristics were rooted in biological specificity transmitted from one generation to another through heredity. Yet Maurras stands apart from analyses that saw race as the only explanatory factor for historical phenomena. This downplaying of race also relates to his desire to distinguish his ideas from the Nazis’ racial theories.

32Martha Hanna

33Against Kant and Kultur. The Cultural Criticism of the Action française in the Great War

34Fundamental to the ideology of the Action française was the belief that the political, social, and cultural renewal of France depended upon a reorientation of intellectual values. Charles Maurras made this claim the centerpiece of his extended essay, L’Avenir de l’intelligence (first published in 1905), and the creation of the Institut de l’Action française a year later demonstrated how serious the movement was in its determination to effect a radical reorientation of French intellectual life. But if the intellectual arguments and agenda of the Action francaise predated the Great War, it was the intellectual debates of the war years – most particularly an ongoing, impassioned debate about the merits and flaws of Kantian philosophy that continued to pit neo-royalists against defenders of the Third Republic – that bestowed upon the Action française a reputation for intellectual prescience that it had lacked prior to 1914. In it persistent critique of Kantian principles the Action française found the perfect vehicle for waging intellectual warfare against both the German enemy and the Third Republic.

35Michel Grunewald

36French Germanists and Maurrassism: the case of Louis Reynaud

37Louis Reynaud (1876-1946) is certainly the only French Germanist of his generation who sympathized with Action Française. However, he does not have an isolated status among this group as his writings also reflect the doxa shared at the time by French Germanists and German Romanists. In fact, their publications on the neighbouring country reveal to a great extent that certain issues of Maurras’s movement were close to a general consensus shared by members of the scientific community of that period.

38This consensus was first and foremost based on the firm belief that national identities were inalterable and incompatible. French Germanists strongly believed in a specific type of German behaviour which could be traced back to times of the Reformation, resulting in a nationalistic fallback of the “German soul” and the German nation. Another element of this consensus was a sometimes over-critical attitude towards Romanticism of which Reynaud, like AF in general, was one of the most constant exponents. This anti-romanticism was based in Reynaud’s as well as Maurras’s writings on the idea that German nature was “the antithesis of the ‘esprit Latin’, in particular the French one”.

39Reynaud was convinced that the German character was diametrically opposed to the French, France being the sole legitimate and authentic trustee of the values of civilisation going back to Greco-Roman antiquity. He believed that even after 2,000 years the Germans were still barbarians. For Reynaud, the Germans had never had the capacity to develop a “rule” by themselves and, unlike the French, had never been spontaneously open to discourse based on reason which does “not recognize the individual, but only the general”. It was thus legitimate from Reynaud’s point of view to consider the Germans as inferior to the French who had enabled the development of the one and only true culture – classicism.

40Robert Kopp

41Maurras as a reader of Rousseau and Chateaubriand

42Rather than treating the subject as a whole as revealed in Maurras’s complete writings, we analyze here a brief text written when he was thirty years old: Trois Idées politiques: Chateaubriand, Michelet, Sainte-Beuve. Published in 1898 and reissued in 1912, these foundational pages of Maurras’s system belong first of all to a context that must be specified: the Dreyfus affair, a declining revanchard nationalism and, in regard to Rousseau and Chateaubriand, an increasingly virulent anti-romanticism promoted by the influential thinkers of the day – Brunetière, Faguet, Lemaître, Lasserre, Bainville and many others. Its roots lay in the neo-classical reaction that dated back to the end of the July Monarchy and the Second Empire. At the end of the century, this anti-romanticism acquired political overtones. By extending it back to Rousseau, Romanticism could be viewed not only as a result, but as a cause, of the French Revolution.

43Through his implacable sense of dialectic and a sense of paradox which enhances certain of his works, Maurras demonstrates the right’s error in celebrating Chateaubriand, who had followed Rousseau in celebrating revolutionary anarchy, and the left’s mistake in regarding Michelet as a man of the people committed to their sovereignty when he was in fact an author dedicated to tradition. Synthesis was represented by the “empirisme organisateur” of the penitent Romantic, Sainte-Beuve. Through such implacable affirmations, Maurras’s complete system of thought emerges, just as it would appear in L’Avenir de l’intelligence or the Enquête sur la monarchie, a system founded upon the alliance between positivism (with Comte taking over the role of Sainte-Beuve), monarchism, Catholicism, and integral nationalism.

44Gaetano DeLeonibus

45Discordances in the interpretation of Maurrassian classicism

46The interpretation of Maurrassian classicism by Pierre Lasserre and Henri Clouard, respectively critics at L’Action française and La Revue critique des idées et des livres, emanates from the dialectic of confession — revelation-meditation-conversion — restorer of the Maurrassian self and aestheticized politics. But, at the climax of the quarrel over classicism in 1913, discordance emerges. In their interpretative enthusiasm, disciples establish a train of classical authors within which appear literary figures until then excluded by their “maître.” Accused of Nietzcheism and seeking to justify himself to Rome, Maurras denounces his young “lettrés” at the Revue critique who had dedicated a special issue to Stendhal and created a Prix Stendhal. Clouard and Lasserre distance themselves from the Action Française and for years would confide their disappointment with a Maurras whose aestheticized politics remained exclusionary.

47Neil McWilliam

48Maurrassian anti-romanticsm

49The 1907 publication of Pierre Lasserre’s thesis Le Romantisme français marks an important point in the development of a debate that extended from the 1890s to the Second World War. The critique of Romanticism was pursued across a broad intellectual field, but it was Charles Maurras and the Action française that dominated anti-romantic discourse, providing it with an ideological coherence critical in defining the terms of the debate. This paper analyzes the stakes of this discourse by revealing its links with the crisis of masculinity that has been noted by historians of the Third Republic and that can be seen both in the emergence of the “Femme nouvelle” as a symbolic challenge to traditional sexual hierarchies and in the representation of the Dreyfusard intellectual as an effeminate cosmopolitan. This crisis played an important role in the development of the Maurrassian discourse of “intelligence”, which was rooted in a virile conception of the man of letters antithetical to romantic sentiment and individualism.

50Christian Amalvi

51Charles Maurras and Antiquity

52At the time of the 1896 Athens Olympics to which he had been sent as a correspondent by the Gazette de France, Charles Maurras was enchanted by his discovery of ancient Greece. These strong impressions were to inspire a series of works throughout his life, continually enriched by superb imagery and new ideas. Notable amongst these are Anthinéa (1901) and Les Vergers sur la mer, works which serve in some ways as his Prière sur l’Acropole. Ancient Greece in general, and Periclean Athens in particular, represent for Maurras the supreme expression of beauty in aesthetic terms, and the birth of reason within philosophy. Mediated by Provence, the birthplace of the leader of Action française, the genius of France had in its turn been enriched by the heritage of Greece. Through this lineage, the son of Martigues celebrated the unity of French culture and the Provençal civilization currently revived by the Félibrige. Yet this vision of Antiquity is not monolithic. On several occasions, Maurras condemns the contamination of Athenian purity by the destructive germs through which the semitic Orient infected the Hellenistic west. He at once praises Rome itself for extending the benefits of Greek thought throughout the Mediterranean basin and roundly criticizes it as the Trojan horse for the “leprosy” of Judaism and Christianity, qualifying the Apostles as four “obscure Jews.”

53For Maurras, ancient Greece is thus simultaneously the basis for a brilliant meditation on the passage of time and the collapse of empires, in the spirit of the orientalist travel accounts of Chateaubriand, Lamartine and Gérard de Nerval, and the pretext for a disturbing exercise in political, social, and cultural pathology. Moreover, in his rich and subtle study Les Idées de Charles Maurras (1913), Albert Thibaudet demonstrates how the instrumentalization of ancient Greece and Rome provides the ideological foundations for Maurras’s integral nationalism.

54Gerd Krumeich

55Maurras, the Maurrassiens and Joan of Arc

56This paper offers some thoughts on “the politics of Joan of Arc” that was so dear to the Maurrassians. Their position in regard to Joan is, in fact, somewhat original, and in certain ways lags behind the general evolution of the Right’s attitude towards the “national heroine”. Between the 1880s and 1900, Joan had been an emblematic figure in the Right’s rallying to the Republic. The organization of scandals, such as the Thalamas Affair, involving the “Pucelle” provided a centerpiece for integral nationalism’s “propaganda through action”, initiated during the Dreyfus Affair, and helped to emphasize the originality of the royalists’ position.

57Following the relative cessation of hostility during the Great War, and confronted by Joan’s canonization and elevation as the second patron of Republican France, Maurras and his disciples found themselves marginalized, and even excluded (by the church). Their principled and doctrinaire royalism had difficulties in making itself noticed. Public interest in the Pucelle was thus exploited (notably during the 500th anniversary of the liberation of Orleans and the Coronation in 1929) through the display of conspicuous activism. Lastly, Maurrassism’s “politics of Joan of Arc” is discussed in relation to cultural activity during the Vichy regime.

58Michela Passini

59Louis Dimier, l’Action française et la question de l’art national

60Louis Dimier (1865-1943) stands out among the art historians of the first half of 20th century for the originality of his views and the clearness of his approach to methodological problems. I This essay places his œuvre in the larger context of the leading tendencies of contemporary French art history (the controversy over the rise of the Renaissance, the «rediscovery» of French Primitives, the critical debate on 19th century French art and its evolution) and to reconstruct the relationships between his activity as art historian and his engagement as member of the Action française (until 1920). The definition of «national art», a chief problem for the historiography of this time, is central to this discussion.

61Olivier Dard

62Henri Massis

63Henri Massis occupies a particular place in the history both of Action française and of Maurrassism. Though neither a doctrinaire nor a prominent contributor to the daily paper, for which he never wrote, he remains a key figure in the Maurrassian galaxy, however much he has been neglected by historians and overlooked in anthologies. Yet, from the moment of the first letters exchanged with Maurras in 1912, and particularly from his rapprochement with AF following the First World War, Henri Massis was in daily contact with the group and rode out all of the crises it experienced, including the Papal condemnation. Unlike his friend Jacques Maritain, the militant catholic Henri Massis opted for fidelity to Maurrassism. Yet, though essential to the itinerary and ideas of Henri Massis, the religious dimension is not alone in requiring consideration. Culture, aesthetics and literature (Henri Bergson and Maurice Barrès) were also central priorities. As early as 1914, Henri Massis was an accomplished literary critic, whose clear and committed tastes and enthusiasms pointed the way to conflicts with André Gide and the NRF. From the interwar period and the publication of Défense de l’Occident (1927) Henri Massis was also a reputed political essayist.

64Yet, for all that he is a writer, Massis does not stand apart from events. In the history of Action française, he is both a leader and a cultural entrepreneur. From the moment of the celebrated «enquête» by Agathon, he demonstrated a particular interest in the young, of whom he was at that point an emblematic figure, and displayed a pronounced taste for generational debate or for master-disciple relations in which he aspired not only to receive and spread ideas but also to give. After the First World War, Massis served not only as a remarkable spur across the Young Right, but was also a cultural and political entrepreneur through his manifestoes and, in particular, his editorial involvement with the Roseau d’Or and the Revue universelle, on which, with Jacques Bainville, he played a pivotal role.

65A major figure on the French intellectual scene, Henri Massis was one of the most widely read Maurrassians outside France: his works, from Défense de l’Occident onwards, were widely translated (English, German, Spanish). Both through the diffusion of his ideas, and through his narratives and first-hand accounts, Henri Massis can be consider as a sentinel and ambassador of Maurrassian culture.

66Ludovic Morel

67Thierry Maulnier, soldat maurrassien de l’humanisme

68Both for historians and epigones of the Action française, the case of Thierry Maulnier has long provoked questioning. Is this disciple of Maurras, seen by many young Maurrassians during the 1930s as a possible successor to the Master, a dissident from Action française? Did this insurgent identify himself with “the army of the frigid, the tepid and the colorless” the moment he joined Le Figaro, that bastion of moderate conservatism, as his former comrades would assert? If one adds to this Pierre Boutang’s critical characterization of Maulnier as a “wolf turned into a dog”, still bearing the mark of his collar, or that of Claude Roy who, though initially attracted by his thought, finally compared him to an exercise bicycle, nailed to the apartment floor and going nowhere, we have some idea of the range of attacks that Maulnier had to endure from the Occupation onwards. We are forced to agree with Claude Roy that Maulnier’s activities met with political failure, and indeed this was the conclusion that he himself would reach.

69During the 1930s, Maulnier saw literature as a form of political engagement, in the spirit of Maurras, though with a fidelity that, in the words of another Maurrassian, Pierre Monnier, “could accommodate all openings”. To analyze Maulnier’s work during these years is thus in some way to approach the cultural canons of Maurrassianism, particularly anti-Romanticism and the defense of classicism, two aesthetic ideas directly related to politics. Beyond this, Maulnier’s explicit break with Action française after 1944 allows us to examine whether or not Maurrassianism persisted in the work of a writer who clearly chose to strike out on his own path, a path founded upon a combative humanism – ultimately highly literary in nature – and the defense of western civilization in crisis.

70Michel Leymarie

71Three Surveys and an Hommage

72As a means of assessing the audience for Charles Maurras and Maurrassian ideas across a thirty-year period, this article explores three “enquêtes” (surveys, enquiries) and an “hommage” (commemorative volume). The enquiry on “Maurice Barrès and the Young”, published by the Revue française politique et littéraire in 1913, allows a comparison of the respective audiences for Barrès, Maurras and Bergson across a terrain shared by the young and their seniors. Even if for some he appears to stand as an intercessor on a path towards Maurrassianism, Barrès remains a master in his own right, while others look towards Bergson.

73The Enquête sur les maîtres de la jeune littérature (1922), directed by Henri Rambaud and Pierre Varillon, shows that Bourget, Barrès and Maurras were still admired, though sometimes as masters rather than literary models. Maurice Vaussard’s Enquête sur le nationalisme of 1923 focuses on the relationship between nationalism and Catholicism that would lead to the condemnation of Action française three years later.

74Finally, the “Hommage” paid to Maurras by the Revue universelle in January 1937 on the occasion of his jubilee, marking 50 years of journalistic and literary activity, bears the mark of the prevailing domestic and international situation. The “hommage” demonstrates the substantial audience claimed for the doctrinaire by his close circle and serves as a waystage in the process of reconciliation with Rome. It is also a step towards Maurras’s election to the Académie française in June 1938, and represents an ideological and cultural victory, heralding the second surge of the Action française itself.

75Francis Balace

76The Camelots du roi: Contestatory Youth in the French Novel, 1908-1914

77Day-to-day news in 1908-1914 was full of the “exploits” of the Camelots du Roi as they fomented trouble in the Latin Quarter, booed or slapped politicians and intellectuals not to their liking, and damaged statues erected to the glory of those supposed to embody the quintessence of the Republic and triumphant laïcité. However, the result was that the most upset was caused in conservative political circles and monarchist organizations (where it was sufficient to exist, not to be obliged to act); their own fear was that the ensuing reprobation and repression would adversely affect their interests and those of the Pretender. A cause of even greater indignation was the leanings shown by the AF and the Camelots towards “monarchist socialism”, the desire to win support from the less elevated social classes, and the quest for allies in other equally radical milieux that were dismissive of the established order. It is striking that, for the period in question, the “Camelot” phenomenon led to the publication of at least five romans à clef, in which these themes were elaborated upon at length. For instance, there was Abel Hermant, a prolix and very Parisian author; also Gyp, a tireless writer on all subjects, with her anti-Semitic and Bonapartist obsessions; and the Landre-d’Abzac tandem, two less well known authors, though with the merit, on the right, of cataloguing all that the Camelots could be blamed for. Because they had made themselves indispensable, the AF and the Camelots emerged victorious from the crisis with the Pretender; they acquired a monopoly on royalist action thanks to media coverage of their past actions and the fascination they exerted on the young, and perhaps also because they came to renounce the most brazen types of provocation.

78Jane Fulcher

79From reactionary to French Resistance classicism: the Action française, the ‘Wagner Problem’ and Vichy’s ideological compromise

80In the late summer of 1944, as the army of Liberation moved implacably if indeed arduously toward Paris, intellectual resistance journals were importuning French solidarity, deftly negotiating still hostile factions and divisive symbols. Significantly, they sought to do so not through the conventional political vector of ideology, or the mediation of French Republican and nationalist rhetoric, but through a compelling aesthetic discourse uniquely able here to enunciate uninterrupted, if reconfigured, French cultural values. Not surprising for those familiar with French history or nationalist leagues it was a discourse on French classicism construed as synonymous with France herself, but in a potent new amalgam, the political and cultural agency of which, as the war concluded, is discussed here.

81It is the kind of classic model that is here of prime importance, for it was designed not only to emphasize Vichy’s political and cultural compromise but to articulate another nationalism that would signify refusal, while reconfiguring a new French ethical and communal whole. In this endeavor to employ the classic to articulate new spiritual unity, new national memory, and those distinctive modes of thought and of expression that were endemic to the nation, two major influences, merge: reactionary nationalism and the “critical classicism” of France’s Left. Yet also imbricated in the emergence of “resistance classicism” is the schism within the Ligue de l’Action Française as a result of Vichy’s political compromise, as emblazoned for some league members in official discourse on Richard Wagner and his purported enduring influence on Debussy. The resistance reconstruction of Debussy as classic paradigm hence must lead us into the history and articulation of three different strains or distinct conceptions of classic values within a political-cultural discourse whose ramifications cross over French cultural fields. It is the structure of such symbolic confrontation, the negotiation within this discourse or political language and its manipulation of Debussy as classic icon that I analyze here — its impact on political culture as well as music as France, once more, was redefined.

82Bénédicte Vergez-Chaignon

83Maurrassians versus Integral Nationalism: The Resistance between rupture and coexistence with Action française (1941-1948)

84Though often considered as having inspired the Vichy régime, Action française, as a result of its doctrine of integral nationalism, also inspired instances of real involvement in the resistance movement. Many supporters of Maurras have attempted to discern promptings for resistance in Maurras’s writings after June 1940 (Entre nous). As the war developed, the line followed by L’Action française led to breaks between Maurrassians who took up resistance and their intellectual master. These breaks could be treated as either contingent or definitive, but they found expression in newspapers or pamphlets (Jonchay’s Nouvelle Action française). After the Liberation, Maurras’s condemnation for fraternizing with the enemy left the field clear for pluralistic expressions of Maurrassism, despite the purge. Alongside orthodox rivals, who were sometimes guilty of raising the stakes (Les Documents nationalistes, L’Indépendance française, Aspects de la France), the Comte de Paris as well as those Maurrassians who accepted the principle, if not the form, of Resistance, attempted to assert themselves. Pierre Boutang stands out both by his involvement in a number of newspapers (Paroles françaises, La Dernière Lanterne) and by his stubborn though unsuccessful attempt to renew debate in order to save Maurrassism.

85Guillaume Gros

86L’Action française, History and Historians after 1945

87Though Action française was discredited in 1945, maurrassian culture persisted in historical writing. Out of a historical genre of memoirs or hagiography (the cult of jacques Bainville) and a popularizing academic history rooted in the counter-revolutiuonary tradition (Pierre Gaxotte), there emerged a more novel form of history. Diffusely articulated and lacking any strictly doctrinal project, it developed around such striking figures as Raoul Girardet, Phillipe Ariès, and Emmanuel Beau de Loménie. Amongst these three groups, one can discern mediations linking M. Mourre to J.-F. Chiappe, and passing through J. Carcopino, J. Laurent, F. Bluche, G. Comte, G.-C. Picard, M.M. Martin, and V. Nguyen.

88Often at odds with the university system, this history found its support in the Institut and the world of publishing. Issues relating to national crises (the Algerian War, the Bicentenary of the French Revolution) renewed the vigor of a political heritage and also provided an opportunity to re-examine the ties between political culture, the historian’s vocation, and historiographical choice.

© Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 2010

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