The Second World War spawned infamous collaborators such as Brasillach and Drieu la Rochelle, men who betrayed France throughout the Occupation. Among their number stands the Catholic writer Alphonse de Châteaubriant. Author of the prize-winning novels
Monsieur des Lourdines and
La Brière, he turned his literary talents to the propagation of a collaborationist message in the pages of the infamous essay
La Gerbe des forces and the equally ignominious newspaper
La Gerbe. Although nothing predisposes a Catholic to be a collaborator, Châteaubriant’s commitment to the National-Socialist cause arose from an idiosyncratic reading of Christian doctrine which justified racism and elitism in the name of spiritual regeneration. He viewed his encounter with National Socialism as a long-awaited meeting of minds, and championed its representatives as men of vision who would re-evangelise the world. After the war, Châteaubriant fled to Austria. Condemned as a traitor in his absence, he indulged in an attempt at self-revision and fulminated against his judges until his dying day. This book explores the dangerous pathways down which misplaced idealism can lead. It challenges those who would obscure the proper telling of Châteaubriant’s involvement, or obstruct a fitting narrative of the Vichy years.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt/M., New York, Wien, 2002. 327 pp., 1 ill.
Contents: Pathways to collaboration – Catholicism and collaboration – Theories of a New Christendom – Readings of National-Socialist
Germany – France and the Second World War – (Re)writing national history and the historiography of the war years.