The French Writers’ War, 1940–1953
The French Writers' War, 1940–1953, is a remarkably thorough account of French writers and literary institutions from the beginning of the German Occupation through France's passage of amnesty laws in the early 1950s. To understand how the Occupation affected French literary production as a whole, Gisèle Sapiro uses Pierre Bourdieu's notion of the "literary field." Sapiro surveyed the career trajectories and literary and political positions of 185 writers. She found that writers' stances in relation to the Vichy regime are best explained in terms of institutional and structural factors, rather than ideology. Examining four major French literary institutions, from the conservative French Academy to the Comité national des écrivains, a group formed in 1941 to resist the Occupation, she chronicles the institutions' histories before turning to the ways that they influenced writers' political positions. Sapiro shows how significant institutions and individuals within France's literary field exacerbated their loss of independence or found ways of resisting during the war and Occupation, as well as how they were perceived after Liberation.
Download citation file: