Patriotism and Treason in the Life and Thought of Jean Paulhan
French writer, editor, and literary critic Jean Paulhan (1884-1968) stands out as a remarkably ambiguous figure in the period following the Second World War, when interpretations of the war tended to create clear divisions between resisters and collaborators. Shortly after Paris was occupied by Germany in 1940, Jean Paulhan became one of the leading figures in the intellectual resistance to Nazi occupation. During the purges that followed the war, however, he was one of the principal protectors of writers deemed collaborationist and, therefore, treacherous by Resistance writers. This thesis examines the controversial position that Paulhan held regarding the post-war purges by describing the historical context to which he was reacting, and by engaging in a close and comparative reading of three of his key texts. His two texts which deal explicitly with the purge, Of Chaff and Wheat and Letter to the Directors of the Resistance, are read alongside his key work on language and literature,Flowers of Tarbes or, Terror in Literature. His commentary on the purge of writers was a nexus in which his literary and political concerns were conjoined. Uniting his literary and political writings to the context of the purge was an intricate argument against the process of purification. To Paulhan, the relationship that various modern literary movements had to literature and language was based, like the post-war purge, on an ideal of purity and renewal which required a dishonest and violent association with the past. Ultimately, this thesis argues that the seemingly uncomfortable contradictions revealed in the roles that Paulhan played during and after the Occupation actually formed the core of a consistent ethical position, one that responded to a real political situation of national trauma while remaining grounded in a wider understanding of the complex relationships between literature, language, national identity and political action.
Advisor:Mark Meyers; Ella Ophir; Pam Jordon; Larry Stewart
School:University of Saskatchewan
School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:purges world war two france literary theory jean paulhan collaboration resistance
Date of Publication:05/25/2009