Les Lettres Françaises and the Failure of the French Postwar ‘Renaissance’

  • Nicholas Hewitt
Part of the Warwick Studies in the European Humanities book series (WSEH)


It is a feature of the Occupation of France and the Resistance movements which it subsequently engendered that so much of the conflict was carried out in cultural and literary terms. With the French lacking, until the very end of the Occupation, very much in terms of concrete political or military power, the realm of ideas and expression achieved an almost disproportionate importance. For the German occupying forces, it was essential, as Pascal Ory demonstrates in Les Collaborateurs, to immediately convey to the French a sense of continuity and normality, and one key feature of this operation was the importance accorded to writers, journalists, dramatists, artists and film-makers as the guarantors of a certain continuity in French culture.1 Hence the vital significance for the Germans in maintaining established publishing-houses and prestigious reviews, such as the Nouvelle Revue Française, albeit in its guise of Drieu la Rochelle’s Nouvelle Nouvelle Revue Française, and of fostering overtly collaborationist literary and intellectual journals such as Je suis partout and La Gerbe.


Communist Party Postwar Period Resistance Movement American Cinema French Culture 
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  1. 1.
    Pascal Ory, Les Collaborateurs ( Paris: Seuil, coll. ‘Points’, 1976 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Claude Morgan, Les ‘Don Quichotte’ et les autres ( Paris: Editions Roblot, coll. ’Cité Première’, 1979 ) p. 162.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jean Galtier-Boissière, Mon Journal pendant la grande pagaïe ( Paris: La Jeune Parque, 1950 ) p. 100.Google Scholar
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    for example, David Caute, Communism and the French Intellectuals, 1914–1960 ( London: André Deutsch, 1964 );Google Scholar
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    George Adam, L’Epée dans les reins, roman: Chronique des années quarante ( Paris: Editions des Trois Collines, 1944 ).Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    Pierre Daix, J’ai cru au matin ( Paris: Robert Laffont, coll. ‘Vécu’, 1976 ) p. 197.Google Scholar

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© Nicholas Hewitt 1989

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  • Nicholas Hewitt

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