Robert Brasillach : biography
Robert Brasillach (31 March 1909 – 6 February 1945) was a French author and journalist. Brasillach is best known as the editor of Je suis partout, a nationalist newspaper which came to advocate various fascist movements and supported Jacques Doriot. After the liberation of France in 1944 he was executed following a trial and Charles de Gaulle's express refusal to grant him a pardon. Brasillach was executed for advocating collaborationism, denunciation and incitement to murder. The execution remains a subject of some controversy, because Brasillach was executed for "intellectual crimes," rather than military or political actions.
Below is a list of Brasillach's oeuvre (fiction, non-fiction and poetry), including posthumous works. Certain works have been briefly summarized.
- 1932 Le Voleur d'étincelles (The Spark Thief/The Stealer of Sparks)
- 1934 L'Enfant de la nuit (Child of the Night)
- 1936 Le Marchand d'oiseaux (The Bird Merchant)
- 1937 Comme le temps passe (How The Time Passes By), nominated for Prix Femina 1937
- 1939 Les Sept Couleurs (The Seven Colors), nominated for Prix Goncourt 1939.
- The book begins with the courtship of Patrice and Catherine, two students, in Paris in the 1920s. At one point the young couple meet two children, who are also called Patrice and Catherine and who claim to be a couple. His studies completed, Patrice leaves to work in Italy, where he becomes enamoured with Italian fascism. Catherine, desiring a more stable relationship, eventually marries a Communist she has met at the office where she works, François. Patrice leaves Italy and serves a five-year stint in the Foreign Legion, where he befriends a young Nazi. After his time in the Legion, Patrice goes to work in Nazi Germany, where he finds Nazi ritual (e.g. Nuremberg rallies, the banners and marches) very engaging. Patrice learns from a friend from his Paris days that François has become a fascist, having turned from both Communism and the Third Republic following the 6 February 1934 crisis in which the extreme right rioted against government "corruption" and perhaps planned to overthrow the state. Ten years after he last saw Catherine, Patrice returns to Paris to visit Catherine and she agrees to go away with him but asks for a few days to collect her thoughts. She decides to stay with François instead, but François misunderstands and believes she has left him. François leaves France without a word and joins the Nationalist cause in the Spanish Civil War, where he has a brief encounter with the Nazi Patrice met in the Foreign Legion. Catherine stays faithful to François, although she meets a young Frenchman who fought for the Republicans in Spain and who turns out to be the young Patrice she had met while he was a child in the 1920s. Meanwhile, the elder Patrice marries a young German woman. The book ends with Catherine on her way to visit François in hospital in Spain after learning that he has been seriously wounded at the front.
- The title of the book stems from the seven styles in which it is written: a narrative of Patrice and Catherine's time together in the 1920s; letters exchanged between Patrice and Catherine while Patrice is in Italy; Patrice's journal entries while he is in Germany; a series of reflections or maxims, mainly on the process of aging and turning 30; dialogue, in the form of a play, between François and Catherine and Catherine and Patrice in the mid-1930s; a series of "documents" François has put together in a scrap book about the Spanish Civil War; and finally a "speech" ("discours"), in which Catherine describes her thoughts as she travels to meet François in hospital.
- The book is very sympathetic to fascism as a regenerating ideology. However, given his future as a collaborator, readers may be surprised that Communism and socialism are not attacked outright and that the "Patrice" character mentions several times that Nazism may not be as enduring as fascism and that Frenchmen may have to fight the Germans in the future. Also, it is of note that Catherine, who calls herself a "petite bourgeoise" and who exemplifies French rationalism (and perhaps represents France herself) as noted in the dialogue section, chooses François, the French/native fascist and turns away from Patrice, who has immersed himself in Italian and German ideology.
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