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Six Authors in Captivity

Literary Responses to the Occupation of France during World War II


Nicole Thatcher and Ethel Tolansky

This book examines the varied responses of six French authors to war, the French occupation and imprisonment. Jean Cassou was imprisoned as a member of a Resistance network and held incommunicado. During this time he composed sonnets in his head which he was able to publish later. Jean Cayrol’s deportation to Mauthausen concentration camp as a result of his Resistance activities inspired his poems and novels. Madeleine Riffaud, aged only 18 in 1942, portrayed her Resistance experience, imprisonment and torture in her post-war prose and poems. A well-known literary critic and writer, Pierre-Henri Simon, composed poetry in his Stalag and wrote fiction after the war. Max Jacob, who died in Drancy, wrote poems and letters reflecting his personal views and feelings on the ‘imprisonment’ of the Occupation itself. Philippe Soupault was actively engaged in Resistance with the founding of Radio Tunis to combat the Italian Fascist station Radio Bari, broadcasting across the Mediterranean and North Africa. Imprisoned for these activities in 1942, he used poetry to keep a spirit of resistance alive.
Each of these authors sought to maintain the spirit of the Resistance, bear witness to the times, and contribute to the future, using literature as their instrument.
Contents: Ian Higgins: Preface – Nicole Thatcher: Introduction – Jennifer Ross: Jean Cassou: Freedom to Compose in Captivity – Ethel Tolansky: Jean Cayrol: Writing and Survival – Olga Rosenbaum: Max Jacob: The Integrity of the Writer – Nicole Thatcher: On l’appelait Rainer: Madeleine Riffaud Revisits her War – Bernard Baritaud: Pierre-Henri Simon: A Certain Idea of Man – Debra Kelly: Philippe Soupault and ‘Ode à Londres bombardée’: Imprisonment, Revolt and Images of Resistance – Ethel Tolansky: Conclusion.