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The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach

by

The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A National Book Award FinalistA National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist On February 6, 1945, Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was a writer of some distinction — a prolific novelist and a keen literary critic. He was also a dedicated anti-Semite, an acerbic opponent of French democracy, and editor in chief of the fascist weekly Je Suis Partout, in whose pages he regularly printed wartime denunciations of Jews and resistance activists.Was Brasillach in fact guilty of treason? Was he condemned for his denunciations of the resistance, or singled out as a suspected homosexual? Was it right that he was executed when others, who were directly responsible for the murder of thousands, were set free? Kaplan's meticulous reconstruction of Brasillach's life and trial skirts none of these ethical subtleties: a detective story, a cautionary tale, and a meditation on the disturbing workings of justice and memory, The Collaborator will stand as the definitive account of Brasillach's crime and punishment.

Review:

"Unabashedly personal, Alice Kaplan's French Lessons yoked together disparate ingredients (autobiography, scattered close readings, and psychological speculation about anti-Semitic writers), in a way that challenged even the post-modern notion of method and discipline. The Collaborator repeats the performance with two departures: Kaplan oddly refers to her work as a 'study' (i.e. a disciplinary product) and she embeds her research in a broad ethical-legal issue (the lightness or wrongness of executing a traitor convicted for his verbal behavior). Drawing heavily on existing research (especially that of Michel Laval) but also presenting some important new evidence strenuously pried loose from French government archives, Kaplan vividly reconstructs Brasillach's life as a wayward elite and third-rate novelist who turned cheer-leader and tattler for the German occupants of Northern France. Even more interestingly, Kaplan reconstructs Brasillach's purge trial using not only the transcript, (whose brilliant rhetoric she ably sums up and comments on) but all that she could glean about his prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and jury. It is in these gleanings that Kaplan falters: she relies on uncriticized anecdotes from interested sources, falls back on social-psychological guess-work where facts are scarce or non-existent, and plays to the reader's stock responses. On the ethical-legal side, she raises vitally important questions which, as a popularizer, she does not explore as fully as required to justify her abrupt and blunt conclusion: that Brasillach was guilty of treason but that his death sentence was excessive and, worst of all, it made of him a potential posterboy for the new French Right. Behind Kaplan's judgment lies a pervasive instability of attitude toward her subject: was Brasillach attractive or repulsive, pitiful or contemptible, a naughty child out of control or a moral monster? Kaplan's wobbling is even more awkward than this summary suggests, for she takes pains to foreground (as in French Lessons) that she is not only Jewish but the daughter of a Nuremburg war-crimes prosecutor. Accordingly, her Brasillach seems to be playing out his drama in the shadow of Kaplan's ever-looming self-preoccupation. Which brings us back to square one." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)

Review:

"This study...is fascinating and well written." Library Journal

Review:

"The subject is a somber one, but she brings to it...fluidity and grace and even something of [a] light, seductive touch." New York Times Book Review

Review:

"An important contribution to modern French history." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

"[O]ne of the best-written, most absorbing pieces of literary history in years."-David A. Bell, New York Times Book Review

On February 6, 1945, Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was a prolific novelist and a keen literary critic; he was also a dedicated anti-Semite and editor of a fascist weekly newspaper. Was he in fact guilty of treason, or singled out as a suspected homosexual? Was it right that he was executed while others, some directly responsible for the murder of thousands, were set free? Kaplan's meticulous reconstruction of Brasillach's life and trial skirts none of the situation's ethical subtleties, and will stand as the definitive account of Brasillach's crime and punishment.

About the Author

Alice Kaplan is a professor of Romance Studies and Literature at Duke University. She is also the author of French Lessons: A Memoir, published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

PrefaceONE: The Making of a Fascist WriterTWO: Brasillach's WarTHREE: The Liberation of ParisFOUR: JailFIVE: Marcel Reboul: The Government ProsecutorSIX: Jacques Isorni: Counsel for the DefenseSEVEN: Missing Persons: Brasillach's Suburban JuryEIGHT: CourtNINE: The Writers' PetitionTEN: No PardonELEVEN: ReactionsTWELVE: After the TrialTHIRTEEN: Justice in HindsightFOURTEEN: The Brasillach MythAcknowledgmentsNotesIndex

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226424156
Author:
Kaplan, Alice
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Location:
Chicago
Subject:
General
Subject:
Europe - France
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
History
Subject:
Trials
Subject:
Fascism
Subject:
Authors, french
Subject:
Intellectuals
Subject:
Fascism and literature
Subject:
World War, 19
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
World History-France
Subject:
Military - World War II
Edition Number:
Pbk. ed.
Edition Description:
1
Series Volume:
107-131
Publication Date:
20011131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » France » World War II
History and Social Science » World History » European History General
History and Social Science » World History » France » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach New Trade Paper
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$26.25 In Stock
Product details 336 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226424156 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This study...is fascinating and well written."
"Review" by , "The subject is a somber one, but she brings to it...fluidity and grace and even something of [a] light, seductive touch."
"Review" by , "An important contribution to modern French history."
"Synopsis" by ,
"[O]ne of the best-written, most absorbing pieces of literary history in years."-David A. Bell, New York Times Book Review

On February 6, 1945, Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was a prolific novelist and a keen literary critic; he was also a dedicated anti-Semite and editor of a fascist weekly newspaper. Was he in fact guilty of treason, or singled out as a suspected homosexual? Was it right that he was executed while others, some directly responsible for the murder of thousands, were set free? Kaplan's meticulous reconstruction of Brasillach's life and trial skirts none of the situation's ethical subtleties, and will stand as the definitive account of Brasillach's crime and punishment.

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