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Maurice Bardèche, born October 1, 1907

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Maurice Bardèche, 1907–1998

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 (18201835) (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.”

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6 Comments

  1. Posted October 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Ragnar,

    According to Savitri herself, the relation was purely Platonic. They married for political reasons only, so she could stay in the country (if I remember correctly). They didn’t have any children and they probably didn’t even have sex. So how is she a race mixer? Let alone race traitor?

    Also, she wrote that her own genes were unfit for being transmitted to the next generation, so she was very “biologically conscious.”

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      In 1939, after the beginning of the war, Savitri Devi was under the impression that if she married A. K. Mukherji, she would be immune to internment as a foreign national sympathetic to the Axis (born in France, she had Greek nationality at the time). As it turned out, the British had no compunction about interning their own citizens for Axis sympathies under Defence Regulation 18-B, but she did not know that at the time.

      The marriage was celibate. She told her friends that she had never had sex in her life, and this was confirmed by a doctor who examined her when she was arrested in Germany in 1949 at the age of 44. (And what is the likelihood that she would start having sex at that age?)

      Savitri was born premature, of aged parents, after a hard labor, and her mother’s family was plagued with ill health. She was afraid of pregnancy given her mother’s experience, and given her family history, she believed she had good reason not to reproduce.

  2. Ragnar
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I would be grateful if somebody would explain to me why I should not regard Savitri Devi as a race-mixer/race-traitor. The woman married an Indian, and, no, he was not White!

    I am willing to give her credit for her books, but come on, White people, a race-mixer is a race-mixer is a race-mixer.

    Pictures of her husband can be found here (at The Savitri Devi Archive): http://www.savitridevi.org/photos-mukherji.html

  3. Devi Devotee
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)

    145th birthday this coming December, Sesquicentennial birthday in 2015; 75th death date in 2011.

  4. Devi Devotee
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    September 13, 2014- Corneliu Codreanu’s 115th birth; November 30, 2013- 75th of his death.

  5. Devi Devotee
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    October 15, 2014- Nietzsche’s 170th birthday. We just missed his 110th death date on August 24, shame!, so we’ll atone in 2015 with his 115th.

    2013 is our Year of Wagner- his Bicentennial on May 22, preceded by the 130th of his death on February 13.

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