- Alan Riding, best-selling author and journalist, on “Writing with the Enemy”
The ideological polarization of French writers and intellectuals in the 1930s shaped their response to the German occupation. Fascists applauded the demise of the Third Republic, while communists and other anti-fascists were thrown into disarray. But, with rare exceptions, all wanted to carry on publishing. Even those later identified with the intellectual resistance, like Mauriac, Aragon, Eluard, Camus and Sartre, published books under rules established by the occupier. Were they collaborating or merely keeping alive French culture?
Alan Riding, a Brazilian-born Briton, is a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, most recently as the paper’s arts correspondent for Europe. He is author of Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans and co-author of Essential Shakespeare Handbook and Opera. His latest book is And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris. He lives in Paris.
- David Drake, Emeritus Reader at Middlesex University, on “Serving the Third Reich: Otto Abetz in Paris (June-December 1940)”
The activities of Jean-Paul Sartre during the Occupation continue to be the subject of much lively debate. In this presentation I shall briefly flesh out Sartre’s 1975 statement that “The war really divided my life in two…it was the turning point of my life”. I will then explore some the issues arising from his activities in Paris after his return from a German POW camp at the end of March 1941: the significance of the resistance group Socialisme et liberté which he helped to found, his acceptance of a post as a philosophy teacher at the lycée Condorcet, the controversies surrounding his plays Les Mouches and Huis Clos, as well as his involvement with the clandestine Comité national des écrivains and the underground literary publication Les Lettres Françaises.
David Drake has written two monographs on French Intellectuals and Politics (both published by Palgrave/ Macmillan). He is currently a UK co-editor of Sartre Studies International and is the author of a biography of Sartre (Haus, 2005). He has written numerous articles and book reviews on French political and intellectual history for mainstream and academic publications and he is currently working on a book on Paris during the Second World War to be published by Harvard University Press. He is Emeritus Reader at Middlesex University, and in 2005, was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.