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Who Wrote the Memoirs of Jean Monnet?

An Intimate Account of an Historic Collaboration

Clifford P. Hackett

Who Wrote the Memoirs of Jean Monnet? presents the only account of the thirty years spent by Jean Monnet, the "Father of Europe," creating his memoirs. Based on numerous interviews with Monnet’s collaborator, Francois Fontaine, and many others, the book reveals the concepts, delays, frustrations, and successes of an historic collaboration. This significant contribution provides a fresh viewpoint into both European Union history and biographical writing.

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Part II: The Memoirs in Monnet’s Life


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Part II

The Memoirs in Monnet’s Life

Writing a memoir requires accepting the idea that all is past, or almost past. It is a difficult turning point in any writer’s life and many would-be memoirists resist it. Jean Monnet was no different except his resistance lasted thirty years.

One of Monnet’s historian-advisors, Jean Baptiste Duroselle, compared him to Georges Clemenceau, France’s leader in the First World War, who resisted writing his memoirs even into his nineties. (He never did the task). Both, Duroselle said, were men of action for whom looking back was deeply antithetical to all they had attempted in long and varied lives. If a memoir constitutes a “summing up,” what actions of any importance can follow?

Facing the memoirs began for Monnet during the Second World War. In August 1943 just before he returned from Algiers to America, where he had lived and worked since 1940, he began to think about Europe after the fighting ended. His role in Algiers, where he succeeded in separating feuding French generals, drew the attention of several American journalists. Soon after he received a letter from a prominent New York publisher asking him to propose a book on postwar France or “whatever other suggestions you yourself might have.” ← 5 | 6 →

Such a vague outline was easy for Monnet to resist but the letter planted an idea which endured. He must have assumed that Mrs. Alfred A...

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