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Remembering Maurice Bardèche:
October 1, 1907–July 30, 1998

bardeche3635 words

Today is the birthday of Maurice Bardèche (1907–1998), the French Neo-Fascist writer. Bardèche was a prolific and highly versatile author of literary, film, and art criticism, history, journalism, and social and political theory. He published twenty-odd books and countless essays, articles, and reviews.

Born in modest circumstances in provincial Dun-sur-Auron near the geographical center of France, Bardèche rose by sheer dint of genius to the heights of France’s meritocracy. He received a scholarship to the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris where he met Thierry Maulnier and his future brother-in-law Robert Brasillach. In 1928, he entered the École Normale Supérieure, where he met such now famous figures as Jacques Soustelle, Simone Weil, and Georges Pompidou. In 1932 he started teaching at the Sorbonne.

During the 1930s, Bardèche primarily collaborated with Brasillach and Maulnier, writing for their journals. In 1935 Bardèche and Brasillach published their influential Histoire du cinéma (Denoël et Steele, 1935; expanded edition, 1943). During the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), Bardèche visisted Spain several times and co-authored a Histoire de la guerre d’Espagne (Plon, 1939) with Brasillach. In 1938, Bardèche began to write for the fascist journal Je suis partout.

In the 1940s, Bardèche became known for his work as a literary scholar. In 1940, he completed his thesis on Balzac. He later turned it into a biography, Balzac romancier: la formation de l’art du roman chez Balzac jusqu’à la publication du père Goriot (1820–1835) (Plon, 1943). Bardèche went on to published highly regarded studies of Stendhal (1947), Proust (1971), Flaubert (1974), Céline (1986), and Léon Bloy (1989).

In 1942, after 10 years at the Sorbonne, Bardèche moved to the Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, where he taught until 1944. Always more sympathetic to fascism than National Socialism, Bardèche was not an open collaborationist during the German Occupation of France, although he moved in collaborationist circles. His brother-in-law Robert Brasillach was executed after the Liberation for collaboration. Bardèche was himself arrested for collaboration but was quickly released. His academic career was ended with a ban from teaching in the public educational system.

Bardèche was not silenced by persecution but radicalized. In 1947, he published Lettre à François Mauriac (La Pensée libre, 1947), defending collaborationism, attacking the excesses of the Resistance, and denouncing the purge of Vichy supporters and the execution of individuals like Brasillach. In 1948, he founded his own publishing imprint Les Sept Couleurs (The Seven Colours), named for a book by Brasillach. In 1948, he published Nuremberg ou la Terre promise (Nuremberg, or the Promised Land) (Les Sept Couleurs, 1948), a critique of the Nuremberg trials which landed him in court for defending war crimes. Sentenced to a year in prison, his sentence was commuted by President René Coty. In 1950, he published Nuremberg II ou les Faux-Monnayeurs (Nuremberg II or The Counterfeiters) (Les Sept Couleurs, 1950). In 1952, he founded his journal Défense de l’Occident (Defense of the West), which he published until 1982.

In 1951, Bardèche joined Sir Oswald Mosley, Karl-Heinz Priester, and Per Engdahl in founding the European Social Movement (MSE), the goal of which was to promote pan-European nationalism. Bardèche served as vice-president.

True to his heritage as a “Frank,” Bardèche never dodged labels like “rightist” or “fascist.” Instead, he owned them and tried to give them substance. In the Introduction to his book Qu’est-ce que le fascisme? (What is Fascism?) (Les Sept Couleurs, 1961) he states forthrightly “I am a fascist writer.” Bardèche sought to bring fascism back to its socialist and syndicalist roots. He was particularly attracted to Mussolini’s late experiment, the Italian Social Republic.

Counter-Currents has published the following works by Bardèche:

Counter-Currents will publish Bardèche’s Nuremberg or The Promised Land in 2014 and What is Fascism? in 2015.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Walter
    Posted October 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I am reminded of Bardeche’s book Qu’est-ce que le fascisme? and am wondering whether this might not become a book on the publication list of Counter Currents. I’ve looked repeatedly at Dr. Johnson’s three-part series The Fascist Dream and was wishing to be able to buy the whole of Qu’est-ce que le fascisme? in translation, not being able to read it in French with enough comprehension to make this profitable.
    I am glad that great people of our past are kept alive at Counter Currents in our consciousness, so that we not forget that at one point there was a genuine will to come to an understanding between people of European will and understanding, and combine the common strength for a way to prosper as a people with many commonalities and shared accomplishments, rather than waste one’s strength in a useless fights against one another.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 9, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      I hope I can finish translating What is Fascism? next year. It is a lovely little book.

      • Walter
        Posted October 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        That’s good. I am looking forward to it. The book is immensely interesting and your translation is an excellent piece of literature. I am glad to see that this very project is on your mind.

      • Proofreader
        Posted October 10, 2014 at 1:36 am | Permalink

        I’ve been thinking that sometime in the future I should make some notes regarding items in the text of Qu’est-ce que le fascisme? that warrant annotation in the translation. For example, the chapter on the unexpected fascisms obliquely refers to Jacques Gagliardi and Philippe Rossillon’s manifesto, Survivre à De Gaulle: patrie et progres (Paris: Plon, 1959), and I think the same chapter refers to Velosolex, a moped made by the French company Solex. Such references might be unclear to most readers.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted October 10, 2014 at 1:52 am | Permalink

          That would be most helpful.

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