By Jocelyn Van Tuyl

The 1st whole examine of Gide’s ignored wartime writings.

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Extra info for Andre Gide and the Second World War: A Novelist's Occupation

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Freely? One suspects some infamous deceit. How can one speak of France as “intact” after handing over to the enemy more than half of the country? How to make these words fit those noble words he pronounced three days ago? How can one fail to approve Churchill? 56 Is it not enough for France to be conquered? Must she also be dishonored? (J 4: 24)57 In later years, Gide would point to this early expression of support for de Gaulle as proof of his long-standing resistance allegiances. What he concealed throughout his lifetime was the retraction, two days later, of the Journal’s denunciation of Pétain.

Giving up on the idea of a spa cure, Gide remained in Vichy until 16 June, departing days before the arrival of the German army and not long before the collaborationist government set up shop in the resort town (Sheridan 541; CAG 6: 178). 51 Marshal Pétain’s politics—and Gide’s reaction to them—form a short but crucial chapter of Gide’s wartime Journal. “[S]imply admirable”52 was Gide’s assessment of the 20 June 1940 broadcast in which Pétain justified his request for an armistice on the basis of Germany’s overwhelming military superiority (J 4: 23).

Roger Martin du Gard subscribed to this view, and Gide initially shared his friend’s opinion, believing that reason—if not justice and right—had prevailed (G/MG 152; J II: 625). Gide soon revised his assessment, however, on receiving a letter from Jef Last, the young Dutch communist with whom he had traveled to the Soviet Union two years before. ”4 Gide swiftly 21 22 ANDRÉ GIDE AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR came around to Last’s position (albeit with some of his usual wavering and hesitation); Martin du Gard changed his views only after Hitler annexed the remainder of Czechoslovakia six months later (Martin, “Ce fou” 119).

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