French Writers and the Politics of Complicity (review)


In a thought-provoking and well-researched new book, Richard Golsan explores the politics of complicity in two heterogeneous groups of French writers. Focusing on the 1940s and the 1990s, Golsan analyzes problematic stances taken by select intellectuals in highly charged, and often high-stakes political environments. His goal, broadly, is to analyze choices and activities that he characterizes as complicitous with undemocratic policies and regimes. With chapters on Henry de Montherlant, Alphonse de Châteaubriant, Jean Giono, Alain Finkielkraut, Régis Debray, and Stéphane Courtois, Golsan’s book covers a wide range of contexts and varying degrees of intellectual complicity. Cautious to avoid the “twin dangers of demonization and apology,” Golsan paints portraits of those writers as they grapple with the dominant domestic and international situations of their respective eras. And for Golsan, political commitment led those intellectuals in unsettling directions.

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