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Pierre Drieu La Rochelle

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Title: Pierre Drieu La Rochelle  
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Subject: Will O' the Wisp (novel), French Popular Party, Joseph Goebbels, Jacques Rigaut, Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery
Collection: 1893 Births, 1945 Deaths, 20Th-Century French Novelists, 20Th-Century French Poets, French Anti-Communists, French Collaborators with Nazi Germany, French Fascists, French Journalists, French Male Novelists, French Male Poets, French Male Short Story Writers, French Military Personnel of World War I, French Novelists, French Poets, French Political Writers, French Short Story Writers, Journalists Who Committed Suicide, Male Suicides, Nazi Collaborators Who Committed Suicide, Poets Who Committed Suicide, Sciences PO Alumni, Suicides in France, Writers from Paris, Writers Who Committed Suicide
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Pierre Drieu La Rochelle

Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
Born Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle
(1893-01-03)3 January 1893
Paris, France
Died 15 March 1945(1945-03-15) (aged 52)
Paris, France
Occupation Novelist, short stories writer, political essays writer
Language French
Notable works Nouvelle Revue Française
(editor, 1940–1945)

Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle (French: ; 3 January 1893 – 15 March 1945) was a French writer of novels, short stories and political essays. He was born, lived and died in Paris. Drieu La Rochelle became a proponent of French fascism in the 1930s, and was a well-known collaborationist during the German occupation.


  • Early life 1
  • Fascism and collaboration 2
  • Works 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5

Early life

Drieu was born into a middle class family from Normandy, based in the 17th arrondissement of Paris. His father was a failed businessman and womanizer who married his mother for her dowry. Although a brilliant student, Pierre failed his final exam at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques. Wounded three times, his experience as a soldier during World War I had a deep influence on him and marked him for the rest of his life.

In 1917, Drieu married Colette Jéramec, the sister of a Jewish friend. The marriage failed and they divorced in 1921. Sympathetic to Dada and to the Surrealists and the Communists, and a close friend of Louis Aragon in the 1920s, he was also interested in the royalist Action Française, but refused to adhere to any one of these political currents. He wrote "Mesure de la France" ("Measure of France") in 1922, which gave him some small notoriety, and edited several novels. He later (beginning in the 1930s) embraced fascism and anti-semitism.

In Drieu's political writings, he argued that the Ernest Mercier's Redressement Français, and then, at the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, with some currents of the Radical Party.

Fascism and collaboration

As late as 1931, in "L'Europe contre les patries" ("Europe Against the Nations"), Drieu was writing as an anti-Hitlerian, but by 1934, especially after the Fernand Pelloutier, and the earlier French socialism of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Proudhon.

Drieu La Rochelle joined Jacques Doriot's fascist Parti Populaire Français (PPF) in 1936, and became the editor of its review, L'Emancipation Nationale, until his break with the party beginning in 1939. In 1937, with "Avec Doriot", he argued for a specifically French fascism. He continued writing his most famous novel, Gilles, during this time.

He supported collaborationism and the Nazis' occupation of northern France. During the occupation of Paris, Drieu succeeded Jean Paulhan (whom he saved twice from the hands of the Gestapo) as director of the Nouvelle Revue Française and thus became a leading figure of French cultural collaboration with the Nazi occupiers, who he hoped would become the leader of a "Fascist International". His friendship with the German ambassador in Paris, Otto Abetz, pre-dated the war. Beginning in 1943, however, he became disillusioned by the New Order, and turned to the study of Eastern spirituality.[2] In a final, provocative act, he again embraced Jacques Doriot's PPF, simultaneously declaring in his secret diary his admiration for Stalinism.

Upon the liberation of Paris in 1944, Drieu had to go into hiding. Despite the protection of his friend André Malraux, and after a failed first attempt in July 1944, Drieu committed suicide[3] on 15 March 1945. Suicide had been a constant temptation throughout his adult life. Like Robert Brasillach, his death caused him to be revered as a martyr by neo-fascists.


The following list is not exhaustive.

  • Interrogation (1917), poems
  • Etat civil (1921)
  • "Mesure de la France" (1922), essay
  • L'homme couvert de femmes (1925), novel
  • "Le Jeune Européen" (1927), essay
  • "Genève ou Moscou" (1928), essay
  • Hotel Acropolis (Une femme à sa fenêtre) (1929), novel
  • "L'Europe contre les patries" (1931), essay
  • Will O' the Wisp (Le Feu Follet) (1931). This short novel narrates the last days of a former heroin user who commits suicide. It was inspired by the death of Drieu's friend, the surrealist poet Jacques Rigaut. Louis Malle adapted it for the screen in 1963 as "The Fire Within." Joachim Trier adapted it as "Oslo, August 31st" in 2011.
  • Drôle de voyage (1933), novel
  • The Comedy of Charleroi (La comédie de Charleroi) (1934), is a collection of short stories in which Drieu attempts to deal with his war trauma.
  • Socialisme Fasciste (1934), essay
  • Beloukia (1936), novel
  • Rêveuse bourgeoisie (1937). In this novel, Drieu tells the story of his parents' failed marriage.
  • "Avec Doriot" (1937), political pamphlet
  • Gilles (1939) is Drieu's major work. It is simultaneously an autobiographical novel and a bitter indictment of inter-war France.
  • "Ne plus attendre" (1941), essay
  • "Notes pour comprendre le siècle" (1941), essay
  • "Chronique politique" (1943), essay
  • The Man on Horseback (L'homme à cheval) (1943), novel
  • Les chiens de paille (1944), novel
  • "Le Français d'Europe" (1944), essay
  • Histoires déplaisantes (1963, posthumous), short stories
  • Mémoires de Dirk Raspe (1966, posthumous), novel
  • Journal d'un homme trompé (1978, posthumous), short stories
  • Journal de guerre (1992, posthumous), war diary


  1. ^ Tucker, William R. (1965). "Fascism and Individualism: The Political Thought of Pierre Drieu La Rochelle". Journal of Politics (The Journal of Politics, Vol. 27, No. 1) 27 (1): 153–177.  
  2. ^ He expressed his deception in Les Chiens de Paille (1944), his last novel in which he represents himself as a cynical man with anarchist tendencies.
  3. ^ "Pierre Drieu La Rochelle". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 8, 2009. 


  • Andreu, Pierre and Grover, Frederic, Drieu la Rochelle, Paris, Hachette 1979.
  • Carrol, David, French literary fascism, Princeton University Press 1998.
  • Dambre, Marc (ed.), Drieu la Rochelle écrivain et intellectuel, Paris, Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle 1995.
  • Hervier, Julien, Deux individus contre l’Histoire : Pierre Drieu la Rochelle et Ernst Jünger, Paris, Klincksieck 1978
  • Lecarme, Jacques, Drieu la Rochelle ou la bal des maudits, Paris, Presses Universitaires Françaises, 2001.
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