6 November 2013

Robert Brasillach and Maurice Bardèche: Cimetière de Charonne #3

Robert Brasillach (1909–1945) is a writer who is much better known for his political views, for which he lost his life. He began writing for the extreme right-wing Action française and went on during the Occupation to be editor-in-chief of the anti-Semitic Je suis partout. After the war many writers – among them Camus, Colette, Valéry, Mauriac and Cocteau – petitioned the government for leniency, but he received the death sentence and was executed in Arceuil, Val-de-Marne.
Geneviève Maugis was his half-sister.

Maurice Bardèche (1907–1998) was Brasillach's brother-in-law and another extreme right-winger. Patrick Besson wrote about the strangeness of his becoming a 'collaborator' after liberation: certainly during the war he limited his writing to 19th century literature (apart from a few articles on art in Je suis partout), but in 1948 he published Nuremberg ou la Terre promise – a book of Holocaust denial for which he was imprisoned for a year and fined 50,000 francs. In 1957 he published Suzanne et le taudis (lit. 'Suzanne and the Slum') about the poverty-stricken conditions his family lived in, but he remained unrepentantly on the extreme right. Unsurprisingly, Jean-Marie Le Pen (then leader of the Front National*) was present at Bardèche's funeral and voiced his strong admiration.

*Marine Le Pen – Jean-Marie Le Pen's daughter – now leads the Front National, which is still (despite any attempts she makes to suggest the contrary), emphatically a political party of the extreme right. Amusingly, the left-leaning paper Libération published a front page photo of her last month (12–13 October 2013) with the headline screaming the warning '100% EXTRÊME DROITE APPELLATION CONTRÔLÉE', although it was far from amusing to learn that the Front National won Brignoles (Var) that weekend.

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