Thursday, September 25, 2014
Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle
Pierre Eugène Drieu La Rochelle (1893 – 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.
Drieu was born into a middle class, petit bourgeois 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.
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 on 15 March 1945. Suicide had been a constant temptation throughout his adult life.