This study examines the relationship between French intellectuals and politics from the end of the nineteenth century up to and including the Occupation. In this introduction I shall first explore the usage and connotation of the term ‘intellectual’ in France, and by contrast in Britain. I shall then briefly explain my choice of the French intellectuals on whom this study concentrates before concluding with an overview of the political activities of French intellectuals from the 1890s until the Liberation.


Unskilled Manual Worker Ideological Polarisation French Intellectual National Educational System British High Education 
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  1. 1.
    J. Guéhenno, Journal des années noires (1940–1944), Gallimard, 1947, p. 205. Quote brought to my attention by Jennifer Lefevre.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    K. Reader, ‘The Intellectuals: Notes towards a Comparative Study of Their Position in the Social Formations of France and Britain’, Media, Culture and Society, 1982 (4), pp. 263–73, p. 266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    M. Leymarie, Les Intellectuels et la politique, Presses Universitaires de France (Collection Que sais-je?), 2001, p. 11.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    J.-P. Sartre, ‘Plaidoyer pour les intellectuels’, in J.-P. Sartre, Situations VIII, Gallimard, 1972, p. 377.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a recent study on female intellectuals, see N. Racine and M. Trebitsch, Intellectuelles. Du genre en histoire des intellectuels, Éditions Complexe, 2004.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Drake 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Drake
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Middlesex UniversityUK
  2. 2.Institut d’études européenesParis VIII UniversityFrance

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