Pierre Drieu La Rochelle

Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle (French: [dʁjø la ʁɔʃɛl]; 3 January 1893 – 15 March 1945) was a French writer of novels, short stories and political essays. He was born, lived and died in Paris. Drieu La Rochelle became a proponent of French fascism in the 1930s, and was a well-known collaborationist during the German occupation.

Early life

Drieu was born into a middle class family from Normandy, based in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. His father was a failed businessman and womanizer who married his mother for her dowry. Although a brilliant student, Pierre failed his final exam at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques. Wounded three times, his experience as a soldier during World War I had a deep influence on him and marked him for the rest of his life.

In 1917, Drieu married Colette Jéramec, the sister of a Jewish friend. They divorced in 1921. Sympathetic to Dada and to the Surrealists and the Communists, and a close friend of Louis Aragon in the 1920s, he was also interested in the royalist Action Française, but refused to adhere to any one of these political currents. He wrote "Mesure de la France" ("Measure of France") in 1922, which gave him some small notoriety, and edited several novels. He later (beginning in the 1930s) embraced fascism and anti-semitism.

In Drieu's political writings, he argued that the parliamentary system (the gouvernement d'assemblée of the French Third Republic) was responsible for what he saw as the "decadence" of France (economic crisis, declining birth rates, etc.). In "Le Jeune Européen" ("European Youth", 1927) and "Genève ou Moscou" ("Geneva or Moscow", 1928), Drieu La Rochelle advocated a strong Europe and denounced the "decadent materialism" of democracy. He believed that a federal Europe could bolster a strong economic and political union isolated from the imperialist Russians and Americans; in 1939 he came to believe that only Nazi Germany could deliver such an autarkian promise.[1] His pro-European views expressed in 1928 were soon followed by closer contacts with employers' organizations, among them Ernest Mercier's Redressement Français, and then, at the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, with some currents of the Radical Party.

Fascism and collaboration

As late as 1931, in "L'Europe contre les patries" ("Europe Against the Nations"), Drieu was writing as an anti-Hitlerian, but by 1934, especially after the 6 February 1934 riots organized by far right leagues before the Palais Bourbon, and then a visit to Nazi Germany in September 1935 (where he witnessed the Reichsparteitag rally in Nuremberg), he embraced Nazism as an antidote to the "mediocrity" of liberal democracy. After the 6 February 1934 riots, he contributed to the review La Lutte des Jeunes and reinvented himself as a fascist. The title of his October 1934 book Socialisme Fasciste ("Fascist Socialism") was representative of his politics at the time. In it, he described his discontent with Marxism as an answer to France's problems. He wrote that he found inspiration in Georges Sorel, Fernand Pelloutier, and the earlier French socialism of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Proudhon.

Drieu La Rochelle joined Jacques Doriot's fascist Parti Populaire Français (PPF) in 1936, and became the editor of its review, L'Emancipation Nationale, until his break with the party beginning in 1939. In 1937, with "Avec Doriot", he argued for a specifically French fascism. He continued writing his most famous novel, Gilles, during this time.

He supported collaborationism and the Nazis' occupation of northern France. During the occupation of Paris, Drieu succeeded Jean Paulhan (whom he saved twice from the hands of the Gestapo) as director of the Nouvelle Revue Française and thus became a leading figure of French cultural collaboration with the Nazi occupiers, who he hoped would become the leader of a "Fascist International". His friendship with the German ambassador in Paris, Otto Abetz, pre-dated the war. He was also a member of the committee of the Groupe Collaboration.[2] Beginning in 1943, however, he became disillusioned by the New Order, and turned to the study of Eastern spirituality.[3] In a final, provocative act, he again embraced Jacques Doriot's PPF, simultaneously declaring in his secret diary his admiration for Stalinism.

Upon the liberation of Paris in 1944, Drieu had to go into hiding. Despite the protection of his friend André Malraux, and after a failed first attempt in July 1944, Drieu committed suicide.[4]


The following list is not exhaustive.

  • Interrogation (1917), poems
  • Etat civil (1921)
  • "Mesure de la France" (1922), essay
  • L'homme couvert de femmes (1925), novel
  • "Le Jeune Européen" (1927), essay
  • "Genève ou Moscou" (1928), essay
  • Hotel Acropolis (Une femme à sa fenêtre) (1929), novel
  • "L'Europe contre les patries" (1931), essay
  • Will O' the Wisp (Le Feu Follet) (1931). This short novel narrates the last days of a former heroin user who commits suicide. It was inspired by the death of Drieu's friend, the surrealist poet Jacques Rigaut. Louis Malle adapted it for the screen in 1963 as "The Fire Within." Joachim Trier adapted it as "Oslo, August 31st" in 2011.
  • Drôle de voyage (1933), novel
  • The Comedy of Charleroi (La comédie de Charleroi) (1934), is a collection of short stories in which Drieu attempts to deal with his war trauma.
  • Socialisme Fasciste (1934), essay
  • Beloukia (1936), novel
  • Rêveuse bourgeoisie (1937). In this novel, Drieu tells the story of his parents' failed marriage.
  • "Avec Doriot" (1937), political pamphlet
  • Gilles (1939) is Drieu's major work. It is simultaneously an autobiographical novel and a bitter indictment of inter-war France.
  • "Ne plus attendre" (1941), essay
  • "Notes pour comprendre le siècle" (1941), essay
  • "Chronique politique" (1943), essay
  • The Man on Horseback (L'homme à cheval) (1943), novel
  • Les chiens de paille (1944), novel
  • "Le Français d'Europe" (1944), essay
  • Histoires déplaisantes (1963, posthumous), short stories
  • Mémoires de Dirk Raspe (1966, posthumous), novel
  • Journal d'un homme trompé (1978, posthumous), short stories
  • Journal de guerre (1992, posthumous), war diary


  1. ^ Tucker, William R. (1965). "Fascism and Individualism: The Political Thought of Pierre Drieu La Rochelle". Journal of Politics. The Journal of Politics, Vol. 27, No. 1. 27 (1): 153–177. doi:10.2307/2128005. JSTOR 2128005.
  2. ^ Karen Fiss, Grand Illusion: The Third Reich, the Paris Exposition, and the Cultural Seduction of France, University of Chicago Press, 2009, p. 201
  3. ^ He expressed his disappointment in Les Chiens de Paille (1944), his last novel in which he represents himself as a cynical man with anarchist tendencies.
  4. ^ "Pierre Drieu La Rochelle". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 8, 2009.


  • Andreu, Pierre and Grover, Frederic, Drieu la Rochelle, Paris, Hachette 1979.
  • Carrol, David, French literary fascism, Princeton University Press 1998.
  • Dambre, Marc (ed.), Drieu la Rochelle écrivain et intellectuel, Paris, Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle 1995.
  • Hervier, Julien, Deux individus contre l’Histoire : Pierre Drieu la Rochelle et Ernst Jünger, Paris, Klincksieck 1978
  • Lecarme, Jacques, Drieu la Rochelle ou la bal des maudits, Paris, Presses Universitaires Françaises, 2001.
  • Mauthner, Martin, Otto Abetz and His Paris Acolytes - French Writers Who Flirted with Fascism, 1930–1945. Sussex Academic Press, 2016, (ISBN 978-1-84519-784-1)
1934 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1934.

A Woman at Her Window

A Woman at Her Window (French: Une femme à sa fenêtre) is a 1976 French drama film directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre, starring Romy Schneider, Philippe Noiret, Victor Lanoux and Umberto Orsini. It tells the story of a woman who helps a union leader sought by the police in Greece in the 1930s. The film is based on the 1929 novel Hotel Acropolis by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle.

The film had 1,205,887 admissions in France. At the 2nd César Awards, Schneider was nominated for Best Actress and Jean Ravel was nominated for Best Editing.

Cultural Amnesia (book)

Cultural Amnesia is a book of biographical essays by Clive James, first published in 2007. The U.K. title, published by MacMillan, is Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, while the U.S. title, published by W.W. Norton, is Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts. The cover illustration was adapted from a work by German Modernist designer Peter Behrens.

Gilles (disambiguation)

The Gilles are the primary group of participants in the Carnival of Binche.

Gilles may also refer to:

Gilles, a French language masculine given name

Gilles (novel), a 1939 novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle

Gilles, Eure-et-Loir, a town in France

Gilles, French variant form of Giles (surname)

Gilles (stock character), French stock character of farce and commedia dell'arte

Gilles (novel)

Gilles is a 1939 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It follows the life of Gilles Gambier, a Frenchman who is disgusted with the bourgeois world, during World War I and the interwar period. After returning from the war, Gilles marries a Jewish woman for her wealth, becomes involved with the surrealist movement, develops his own fusion of Christianity and fascism, and joins the Nationalist faction to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The novel is partially autobiographical. Drieu La Rochelle himself considered it to be his greatest book.

Gringoire (newspaper)

Gringoire (French pronunciation: ​[ɡʁɛ̃ɡwaʁ]) was a political and literary weekly newspaper in France, founded in 1928 by Horace de Carbuccia (son-in-law of Jean Chiappe, the prefect of police involved in the Stavisky Affair), Georges Suarez and Joseph Kessel.It was one of the great inter-war weekly French papers, following a formula started by Candide, and taken up not only by Gringoire but also by the left-wing papers Vendredi and Marianne. The style involved according significant space to politics, having a high-quality literature page, having grand reportages and grand feuilletons (in this case with Pierre Drieu La Rochelle and Francis Carco), satirical cartoons (the main illustrator of Gringoire was Roger Roy), and a simple presentation.

Hotel Acropolis

Hotel Acropolis is a 1929 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. The French title is Une femme à sa fenêtre, which means "a woman at her window". The narrative is set in Athens and revolves the love affair between the wife of a French diplomat and a young communist leader who is sought by the police for a terrorist attack he has committed.

Drieu was himself a communist at the time he wrote the novel, but the communist character is portrayed as a man who seeks adventure and action rather than a Marxist hero. This kind of character, the political adventure seeker, here appears for the first time in the author's oeuvre, and would be used several times in his subsequent works.The novel first appeared in the left-wing weekly La Voix in 1929 and was published as a book by Éditions Gallimard the same year. An English translation by Patrick Kirwan was published in 1931. The book was adapted into the 1976 film A Woman at Her Window directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre.

Jacques Rigaut

Jacques Rigaut (French: [ʁiɡo]; 30 December 1898 – 9 November 1929) was a French surrealist poet. Born in Paris, he was part of the Dadaist movement. His works frequently talked about suicide and he came to regard its successful completion as his occupation. In 1929 at the age of 30, as he had announced, Rigaut shot himself, using a ruler to be sure the bullet would pass through his heart.He is buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre.

Rigaut's works include:

Agence Générale du Suicide

Et puis merde!

Papiers Posthumes

Lord PatchogueHis suicide inspired the book Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu la Rochelle. The movie The Fire Within from Louis Malle is based on this book. The movie Oslo, August 31st directed by Joachim Trier, released in 2011, is also largely based on Will O' the Wisp although the narrative takes place in contemporary Norway. The Granada-based Spanish indie pop band Lori Meyers has a song entitled "La Vida de Jacques Rigaut" (The Life of Jacques Rigaut) with its lyrics relating with his life.

Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery

The Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemeteries in the Hauts-de-Seine département of France are in the western suburbs of Paris, between Paris and La Défense.

The first is called cimetière ancien (Old Cemetery) and is to be found in Neuilly; the second (New Cemetery) is to be found in Nanterre, near La Défense and adjacent to Paris La Défense Arena, but belongs to Neuilly. It is called cimetière nouveau.

Nouvelle Revue Française

La Nouvelle Revue Française (French: [la nuvɛl ʁəvy fʁɑ̃sɛːz]; "The New French Review") is a literary magazine based in France.

Oslo, August 31st

Oslo, August 31st (Norwegian: Oslo, 31. august) is a 2011 Norwegian drama film directed by Joachim Trier. It is loosely based on the novel Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. It won the Best Film and Best Cinematography awards at the 2011 Stockholm International Film Festival, where jury president Whit Stillman called the film "a perfectly painted portrait of a generation". It received widespread critical acclaim, and was one of three films on the Norwegian shortlist for submissions to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.

Robert Soucy

Robert Soucy (born June 25, 1933) is an American historian, specializing in French fascist movements between 1924 and 1939, French fascist intellectuals Maurice Barrès and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, European fascism, twentieth-century European intellectual history, and Marcel Proust's aesthetics of reading.

Rêveuse bourgeoisie

Rêveuse bourgeoisie ("dreamy bourgeoisie") is a 1937 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It tells the story of a declining middle-class family before and after World War I, told in five parts which span over three generations. The developments of the family, which was based on the author's own family, are paralleled to the overall decline of the French middle class around the same time. The novel was written at a time when Drieu La Rochelle was becoming increasingly more engaged in politics, but its themes and narrative are unpolitical and self-critical.A first part of the novel was published in 1936 in the November issue of Nouvelle Revue Française. The finished book was published the year after by éditions Gallimard. Critics initially greeted it as the author's masterpiece, with some reservations about the change of pace toward the end of the novel.

The Comedy of Charleroi

The Comedy of Charleroi (French: La comédie de Charleroi) is a 1934 short story collection by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It consists of six loosely connected stories based on Drieu La Rochelle's experiences as a soldier during World War I. An English translation by Douglas Gallagher was published in 1973.

The following paragraph is the simple synopsis of the plots in the book.

So began the battle of Charleroi, Belgium, August 21, 1914, in the first month of the (not so) Great War. Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, a 21-year-old, inexperienced French officer, was at first exhilarated, a fighting man at last, and then chastened by a shrapnel wound. Returning to the lines weeks later he was wounded again. After recovering from that he and other French soldiers joined the British in the Dardanelles, from which he was evacuated with amoebic dysentery. Recovered from that he joined a regiment at the Battle of Verdun to be so seriously wounded he was removed from active service. This slender volume (212 p) of short-story/memoirs is his looking back at some of the events, the men he knew, the ideas and emotions that swept through him.

The Fire Within

The Fire Within (French: Le feu follet [lə fø fɔlɛ], meaning "The Manic Fire" or "Will-o'-the-Wisp") is a 1963 French drama film directed by Louis Malle. It is based on the novel Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle which itself was inspired by the life of Jacques Rigaut. The film stars Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau—who had previously worked with Ronet and Malle in Elevator to the Gallows—as well as Alexandra Stewart, Bernard Noel, Lena Skerla, Hubert Deschamps and Yvonne Clech. The score features the music of Erik Satie.

The Man on Horseback

The Man on Horseback (French: L'homme à cheval) is a 1943 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu la Rochelle. It is set in Bolivia and tells the story of a dictator who tries to create an empire. The novel explores the author's ideas about political momentum and its origins. The allegorical narrative, complex plot and romantic verve make the novel stand out from Drieu's previous works, which are written in a realistic style and largely autobiographical.

The Voice (1992 film)

The Voice (French: La voix) is a 1992 French drama film directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre, starring Sami Frey and Nathalie Baye. It is set in Rome and tells the story of a man who suddenly comes upon a women he once was in love with. The film is based on a short story by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It was shown in the Panorama section of the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.

Will O' the Wisp (novel)

Will O' the Wisp (French: Le feu follet) is a 1931 novel by the French writer Pierre Drieu La Rochelle. It has also been published in English as The Fire Within. It tells the story of a 30-year-old man who after military service, followed by a few years of cosmopolitan, decadent life, has become burned out, addicted to heroin and tired of living. The author's source of inspiration for the main character was the surrealist poet Jacques Rigaut (1898–1929).The novel has been the basis for two feature films, Louis Malle's The Fire Within from 1963 and Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st from 2011.

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