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Maurice Barrès

Maurice Barrès

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Maurice Barrès was a French novelist, journalist
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

, and socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and agitator
Agitator
An agitator is a person who actively supports some ideology or movement with speeches and especially actions. The Agitators were a political movement as well as elected representatives of soldiers, including the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell, during the English Civil War. They were also known...

 known for his nationalist and antisemitic views.

In his youth a Boulangist
Georges Boulanger
Georges Ernest Jean-Marie Boulanger was a French general and reactionary politician. At the apogee of his popularity in January 1889 many republicans including Georges Clemenceau feared the threat of a coup d'état by Boulanger and the establishment of a dictatorship.- Early life and career :Born...

 deputy, he progressively developed a theory close to Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

 and shifted to the traditionalist right during the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

, leading the Anti-Dreyfusards alongside Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

. In 1906, he was elected both to the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

 and as deputy of the Seine, and until his death he sat with the conservative Entente républicaine démocratique. A strong supporter of the Union sacrée (Holy Union) during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Barrès remained a major influence of generations of French writers, as well as of monarchists, although he was not a monarchist himself.

Early years



Born at Charmes, Vosges
Charmes, Vosges
Charmes is a commune in the Vosges department in Lorraine in northeastern France.It is located on the Moselle River and the Canal de l'Est.It was extensively destroyed both in the First and Second World Wars. A pleasant stop for mobile home owners and canal boats....

, he received his secondary education at the lycée of Nancy, and in 1883 continued his legal studies in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Establishing himself at first in the Quartier Latin, he became acquainted with Leconte de Lisle's cenacle
Cenacle
The Cenacle , also known as the "Upper Room", is the term used for the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner....

 and with the symbolist
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

s in the 1880s, even meeting Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 once. He had already started contributing to the monthly periodical, Jeune France (Young France), and he now issued a periodical of his own, Les Taches d'encre, which survived for only a few months. After four years of journalism
Journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

 he settled in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, where he wrote Sous l'œil des barbares (1888), the first volume of a trilogie du moi (also called Le Culte du moi or The Cult of the Self
The Cult of the Self
The Cult of the Self is a trilogy of books by French author Maurice Barrès, sometimes called his trilogie du moi. The trilogy was influenced by Romanticism, and it also made an apology of the pleasure of the senses....

), completed by Un Homme libre (1889), and Le Jardin de Bérénice (1891). The Cult of the Self trilogy was influenced by Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, and also made an apology of the pleasure of the senses.

He supplemented these apologies for his narcissism with L'Ennemi des lois (1892), and with an admirable volume of impressions of travel, Du sang, de la volupté, de la mort (1893). Barrès wrote his early books in an elaborate and often very obscure style.

The Comédie Française produced his play Une Journée parlementaire in 1894. A year after establishing himself in Neuilly
Neuilly-sur-Seine
Neuilly-sur-Seine is a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the center of Paris.Although Neuilly is technically a suburb of Paris, it is immediately adjacent to the city and directly extends it. The area is composed of mostly wealthy, select residential...

, he began his trilogy in 1897, Le Roman de l'énergie nationale (Novel of the National Energy), with the publication of Les Déracinés. In this second major trilogy, he superated his early individualism with a patriot
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

 fidelity to the fatherland and an organicist conception of the nation
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 (See below for details). Affected by the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

, and finding himself on the side of the Anti-Dreyfusards, Barrès played a leading role alongside Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

, which initiated his shift to the political right; Barrès oriented himself towards a lyrical form of nationalism founded on the cult of the earth and the dead ("la terre et les morts", "earth and the dead" — see below for details).

The Roman de l'énergie nationale trilogy makes a plea for local patriotism
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

, militarism
Militarism
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

, the faith to one's roots and to one's family, and for the preservation of the distinctive qualities of the old French provinces
Provinces of France
The Kingdom of France was organised into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the département system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England...

. Les Déracinés narrates the adventures of seven young Lorrainers
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

 who set out to conquer fortune in Paris. Six of them survive in the second novel of the trilogy, L'Appel au soldat (1900), which gives the history of Boulangism; the sequel, Leurs figures (1902), deals with the Panama scandals. Later works include:
  • Scènes et doctrines du nationalisme (1902)
  • Les Amitiés françaises (1903), in which he urges the inculcation of patriotism by the early study of national history
  • Ce que j'ai vu à Rennes (1904)
  • Au service de l'Allemagne (1905), the experiences of an Alsatian conscript in a German regiment
  • Le Voyage de Sparte (1906).


He presented himself in 1905 to the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

, but was supplanted by Etienne Lamy
Étienne Lamy
Étienne Marie Victor Lamy was a French author, born in Cize, Jura. He was educated at the College Stanislas and became a doctor of law in 1870. From 1871 to 1881 he was a deputy from his native department, Jura, and his earlier writings were political and historical...

. He then tried again, but inclined himself before the candidacy of the former Minister Alexandre Ribot
Alexandre Ribot
Alexandre-Félix-Joseph Ribot was a French politician, four times Prime Minister.-Biography:He was born in Saint-Omer, Pas-de-Calais.After a brilliant academic career at the University of Paris, where he was lauréat of the faculty of law, he rapidly made his mark at the bar...

. But he was finally elected the next year, gaining 25 voices against 8 to Edmond Hauraucourt and one to Jean Aicart on 25 January 1906.

Barrès was also a friend since his youth of the occultist Stanislas de Guaita
Stanislas de Guaita
Stanislas de Guaita was a French poet based in Paris, an expert on esotericism and European mysticism, and an active member of the Rosicrucian Order. He was very celebrated and successful in his time. He was an expert on magic and occultism. He had many disputes with other people who were involved...

, and was attracted by Asia, sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 and shi'ism. But he returned in his later years to the Catholic faith, engaging in L'Echo de Paris
L'Écho de Paris
L'Écho de Paris was a daily newspaper in Paris from 1884 to 1944.The paper's editorial stance was initially conservative and nationalistic, although it did later become close to the French Socialist Party. Its writers included Octave Mirbeau, Georges Clemenceau, Henry Bordeaux, François Mitterrand,...

a campaign in favor of the restoration of the churches of France. His son Philippe Barrès
Philippe Barrès
Philippe Barrès was a French journalist and the son of Maurice Barrès.He fought in World War I. He was a member of the short-lived Fascist party the Faisceau in the late 1920s. During the World War II he lived in the United States and wrote for French language journals...

 followed him in a journalism career.

Political activism


As a young man, Barrès carried his Romantic and individualist theory of the Ego into politics as an ardent partisan of General Boulanger, locating himself in the more populist
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 side of the heterogenous Boulangist coalition. He directed a Boulangist paper at Nancy, and was elected deputy in 1889, at the age of 27, under a platform of "Nationalism, Protectionism, and Socialism", retaining his seat in the legislature until 1893, when he was defeated under the etiquette of "National Republican and Socialist" (Républicain nationaliste et socialiste). From 1889, Barrès' activism overshadowed his literary activities, although he tried to maintain both.

He shifted however to the right-wing during the Dreyfus Affair
Dreyfus Affair
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish descent...

, becoming a leading mouthpiece, alongside Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

, of the Anti-Dreyfusard side. The Socialist leader Léon Blum
Léon Blum
André Léon Blum was a French politician, usually identified with the moderate left, and three times the Prime Minister of France.-First political experiences:...

 tried to convince him to join the Dreyfusards, but Barrès refused and wrote several antisemitic pamphlets. He wrote, “That Dreyfus is guilty, I deduce not from the facts themselves, but from his race.” Barrès' antisemitism found its roots both in the pseudo-scientific racist
Scientific racism
Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to sanction the belief in racial superiority or racism.This is not the same as using scientific findings and the scientific method to investigate differences among the humans and argue that there are races...

 contemporary theories and on Biblical exegesis.

He founded the short-lived review La Cocarde (The Cockade) in 1894 (September 1894 - March 1895) to defend his ideas, attempting to bridge the gap between the far-left and the far-right. The Cocarde, nationalist, anti-parliamentarist and xenophobic, included a diverse collection of contributors from a wide variety of backgrounds (monarchists, socialists, anarchists
Anarchism in France
Thinker Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who grew up during the Restoration was the first self-described anarchist. French anarchists fought in the Spanish Civil War as volunteers in the International Brigades. French anarchism reached its height in the late 19th century...

, Jews, Protestants), including Frédéric Amouretti, Charles Maurras, René Boylesve
René Boylesve
René Boylesve , born René Marie Auguste Tardiveau, was a French author.-Works:* Le Médecin des Dames de Néans ,* Mademoiselle Cloque ,* La Becquée ,...

 and Fernand Pelloutier
Fernand Pelloutier
Fernand Pelloutier was a French anarchist .He was the leader of the Bourses du Travail, a major French trade union, from 1895 until his death in 1901. He was succeeded by Yvetot...

.

He was again beaten during the 1896 elections in Neuilly, as a candidate of the Socialist leader Jean Jaurès
Jean Jaurès
Jean Léon Jaurès was a French Socialist leader. Initially an Opportunist Republican, he evolved into one of the first social democrats, becoming the leader, in 1902, of the French Socialist Party, which opposed Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France. Both parties merged in 1905 in...

, and then again in 1897 as a nationalist antisemitic candidate, having broken with the left-wing during the Dreyfus Affair.

Barrès then assumed the leadership of the Ligue de la Patrie française (League of the French Fatherland), before taking membership in the Ligue des Patriotes
Ligue des Patriotes
The Ligue des Patriotes was a French far right league, founded in 1882 by the nationalist poet Paul Déroulède, historian Henri Martin, and Felix Faure. The Ligue began as a non-partisan nationalist league calling for 'revanche' against Germany, and literally means "League of Patriots"...

(Patriot League) of Paul Déroulède
Paul Déroulède
- Early life :Déroulède was born in Paris. He was published first as a poet in the magazine Revue nationale, with the pseudonym "Jean Rebel". In 1869 he produced, at the Théâtre Français, a one-act drama in verse named Juan Strenner.- Military career :...

. In 1914, he became the leader of the Patriot League.

Close to the nationalist writer Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

, founder of the monarchist Action française
Action Française
The Action Française , founded in 1898, is a French Monarchist counter-revolutionary movement and periodical founded by Maurice Pujo and Henri Vaugeois and whose principal ideologist was Charles Maurras...

 movement, Barrès refused however to endorse monarchist ideas, although he demonstrated sympathy throughout his life for the Action française. Most of the later monarchist theorists (Jacques Bainville
Jacques Bainville
Jacques Bainville was a French historian and journalist. A staunch monarchist, he was a leading figure in Action Française...

, Henri Vaugeois
Henri Vaugeois
Henri Vaugeois was a French far right politician and one of the founders of Action Française.Born in L'Aigle, Orne, Vaugeois settled in Coulommiers where he taught philosophy. Initially a republican liberal, Vaugeois even flirted with Marxism in his youth...

, Léon Daudet
Léon Daudet
Léon Daudet was a French journalist, writer, an active monarchist, and a member of the Académie Goncourt.-Move to the right:...

, Henri Massis
Henri Massis
Henri Massis was a French essayist, literary critic and literary historian.- Works :* Comment Émile Zola composait ses romans, 1905. * Le Puits de Pyrrhon, 1907.* La Pensée de Maurice Barrès, 1909...

, Jacques Maritain
Jacques Maritain
Jacques Maritain was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised as a Protestant, he converted to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive St. Thomas Aquinas for modern times and is a prominent drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights...

, Georges Bernanos
Georges Bernanos
Georges Bernanos was a French author, and a soldier in World War I. Of Roman Catholic and monarchist leanings, he was a violent adversary to bourgeois thought and to what he identified as defeatism leading to France's defeat in 1940.-Biography:Bernanos was born at Paris, into a family of...

, Thierry Maulnier
Thierry Maulnier
Thierry Maulnier was a French journalist, essayist, dramatist, and literary critic.-Before 1940:...

...) have recognized their debt toward Barrès, who also inspired several generations of writers (among which Montherlant
Montherlant
Montherlant may refer to:* Henry de Montherlant* Montherlant, a commune in the Oise département, in France...

, Malraux
André Malraux
André Malraux DSO was a French adventurer, award-winning author, and statesman. Having traveled extensively in Indochina and China, Malraux was noted especially for his novel entitled La Condition Humaine , which won the Prix Goncourt...

, Mauriac
François Mauriac
François Mauriac was a French author; member of the Académie française ; laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature . He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur .-Biography:...

 and Aragon
Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon , was a French poet, novelist and editor, a long-time member of the Communist Party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.- Early life :...

).

Barrès was elected deputy of the Seine in 1906, and retained his seat until his death. He sieged at that time among the Entente républicaine démocratique conservative party. In 1908, he opposed in Parliament his friend and political opponent Jean Jaurès
Jean Jaurès
Jean Léon Jaurès was a French Socialist leader. Initially an Opportunist Republican, he evolved into one of the first social democrats, becoming the leader, in 1902, of the French Socialist Party, which opposed Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France. Both parties merged in 1905 in...

, refusing the Socialist leader's will to Pantheon
Panthéon, Paris
The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens...

ize the writer Emile Zola
Émile Zola
Émile François Zola was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism...

. Despite his political views, he was one of the first to show his respect to Jaurès' remains after his assassination on the eve of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

During World War I, Barrès was one of the proponents of the Union sacrée, which earned him the nickname "nightingale of bloodshed" ("rossignol des carnages"). The Canard enchaîné satirical newspaper called him the "chief of the brainwashers' tribe" ("chef de la tribu des bourreurs de crâne"). His personal notes showed however that he himself did not always believe in his purported war optimism, being at times close to defeatism. Barrès also partly came back on his youthness' mistakes during the war, by paying tribute to French Jews in Les familles spirituelles de la France, where he placed them as one of the four elements of the "national genius", alongside Traditionalists, Protestants and Socialists — thus opposing himself to Maurras who saw in them the "four confederate states" of "Anti-France".

After World War I, Barrès was involved with irredentist forces in Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and sought to increase French influence in the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

. On 24 June 1920, the National Assembly adopted his draft aiming to establish a national day in remembrance of Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

.

Nationalism


Barrès is considered, alongside Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

, as one of the main thinkers of ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

 at the turn of the century in France, associated with Revanchism
Revanchism
Revanchism is a term used since the 1870s to describe a political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country, often following a war or social movement. Revanchism draws its strength from patriotic and retributionist thought and is often motivated by economic or...

 — the desire to reconquer the Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

, annexed by the newly created German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 at the end of the 1871 Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 (Barrès was aged 8 at that time). In fact, he himself popularized the word "nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

" in French.

This has been noted by Zeev Sternhell
Zeev Sternhell
Zeev Sternhell is an Israeli historian and one of the world's leading experts on Fascism. Sternhell headed the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and writes for Haaretz newspaper.-Biography:...

, Michel Winock
Michel Winock
Michel Winock is a French historian, specializing in the French Republic, intellectual movements, anti-Semitism, nationalism and the far right movements of France. He is a professeur des universités in contemporary history at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and member of L'Histoire...

 (who titled the first part of his book, Le Siècle des intellectuels, "Les Années Barrès" ("The Barrès' Years"), followed by Les Années André Gide
André Gide
André Paul Guillaume Gide was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947. Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticolonialism between the two World Wars.Known for his fiction as well as his autobiographical works, Gide...

and Les Années Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

), Pierre-André Taguieff
Pierre-André Taguieff
Pierre-André Taguieff is a philosopher and director of research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in an Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris laboratory, the CEVIPOF...

, etc. He shared as common points with Paul Bourget
Paul Bourget
Paul Charles Joseph Bourget , was a French novelist and critic.-Biography:He was born in Amiens in the Somme département of Picardie, France. His father, a professor of mathematics, was later appointed to a post in the college at Clermont-Ferrand, where Bourget received his early education...

 his disdain for utilitarianism
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness", by whatever means necessary. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can...

 and liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

.

Opposed to Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

's theory of social contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

, Barrès considered the 'Nation' (which he used to replace the 'People') as already historically founded: it did not need a "general will" to establish itself, thus also contrasting with Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan
Ernest Renan was a French expert of Middle East ancient languages and civilizations, philosopher and writer, devoted to his native province of Brittany...

's definition of the Nation. Much closer to Herder
Johann Gottfried Herder
Johann Gottfried von Herder was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated with the periods of Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, and Weimar Classicism.-Biography:...

 and Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

 than to Renan in his definition of the Nation, Barrès opposed French centralism (as did Maurras), as he considered the Nation to be a multiplicity of local allegiances, first to the family, the village, the region, and ultimately to the nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

. Influenced by Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

, Frédéric Le Play and Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism, and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate...

, he developed an organicist conception of the Nation which contrasted with the universalism of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

. According to Barrès, the People is not founded by an act of autonomy, but find its origins in the earth (le sol), history (institutions, life and material conditions) and traditions and inheritance ("the dead"). His early individualism was quickly superated by an organicist theory of the social link, in which "the individual is nothing, society is everything").

Barrès feared miscegenation of modern times, represented by Paris, claiming against Michelet
Edmond Michelet
Edmond Michelet was a French politician.On 17 June 1940, he distributed tracts calling to continue the war in all Brive-la-Gaillarde's mailboxes...

 that it jeopardized the unity of the Nation. The Nation was to be balanced between various local nationalities (he spoke of the "Lorraine nationality" as much as of the "French nationality") through decentralisation and the call for a leader, giving a Bonapartist
Bonapartist
In French political history, Bonapartism has two meanings. In a strict sense, this term refers to people who aimed to restore the French Empire under the House of Bonaparte, the Corsican family of Napoleon Bonaparte and his nephew Louis...

 aspect to his thought which explained his attraction for the General Boulanger and his opposition to liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

. He pleaded for a direct democracy
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

 and personalisation of power, as well as for the implementation of popular referendum
Popular referendum
A popular referendum is a type of a referendum that provides a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a...

s as done in Switzerland
Swiss Federal Constitution
The Federal Constitution of 18 April 1999 is the third and current federal constitution of Switzerland. It establishes the Swiss Confederation as a federal republic of 26 cantons , contains a catalogue of individual and popular rights , delineates the responsibilities of the...

. In this nationalist frame, anti-Semitism was to be the cohesive factor for a right-wing mass movement
Mass movement
Mass movement refers to the political concept of a political party or movement which is supported by large segments of a population. Political movements that typically advocate the creation of a mass movement include the ideologies of communism and fascism...

.

Dada and Barrès


The Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

ists organized in spring 1921 the trial of Barrès, charged of "attempt against the surety of the spirit" ("attentat à la sûreté de l'esprit") and sentenced him to 20 years of forced labour. This fictitious trial also marked the dissolving of Dada, its founders, among whom was Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, he was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the anti-establishment Dada movement...

, refusing any form of justice even if organized by Dada.

Quotes

  • "The reader collaborates with the author in every book", or "The reader is co-author in every book" (Tout livre a pour collaborateur son lecteur)
  • "The individual is nothing, society is everything" (L'individu n'est rien, la société est tout) in Les Déracinés (Roman de l'énergie nationale I), in Romans et voyages, R. Laffont Bouquins, 1994, p. 615
  • Other quotes

External links