Shamed by the example of the “Savitri Devi Devotee” who posted a comment on this site yesterday (Savitri Devi’s 105th birthday), I have resolved to keep better track of the birthdays of the writers I read and recommend on this site. So, with thanks to Wikipedia, here is my first attempt.
Today is the 103rd 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. As an illustration and a tribute, I am reprinting Michael O’Meara’s translation “Bardèche’s Six Postulates of Fascist Socialism.”