Charles Maurras

From Academic Kids

Charles Maurras (April 20, 1868 - November 16, 1952) was a French monarchist poet, critic and leader and principal thinker of the anti-Dreyfusard Action Française movement.

Life

He was born in Martigues in the Bouches-du-Rhone département in the south of France and brought up in a Catholic, monarchist environment. In his early teens he became profoundly deaf, and subsequently lost his faith. At the age of seventeen he came to Paris and worked on a number of periodicals including La Cocarde (The Cockade), a republican review which supported Georges Boulanger, and the Catholic Observateur français. He reported on the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

He became involved in politics at the time of the Dreyfus affair, and in 1899 he joined the Action Française founded by Maurice Pujo and Henri Vaugeois the preceding year. Maurras quickly became influential in the movement, and converted Pujo and Vaugeois to monarchism, which became the movement's principal cause. With Léon Daudet he edited the movement's review La Revue de l'Action française, which in 1908 became a daily newspaper with the simpler title L'Action française.

He supported France's entry into the First World War (even to the extent of supporting the thoroughly republican Georges Clemenceau), but was ambivalent about the Second World War. He believed that the Jews, Freemasons, and Protestants sought to control the entire political life of France. Although passionate about his country, he hailed its invasion by Germany and Pétain's accession to power was a "divine surprise." Under the occupation, he opposed both the collaborators in Paris and the "dissidents" in London. He later claimed he believed that Pétain was playing a "double game", working for an Allied victory in secret. Both Pétain and De Gaulle were influenced by his philosophy of integralism. He was arrested in September 1944, and sentenced to death for collaboration. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, deprivation of civil liberties and expulsion from the Académie française. He responded by exclaiming, "C'est la revanche de Dreyfus!" (It's Dreyfus' revenge). Imprisoned in Riom and then Clairvaux, he was reprieved in 1952 and placed under surveillance in a clinic, where he died on November 16, 1952 — returning to Catholicism shortly before his death.

Maurras' political thought

Central to Maurras' political ideas were an intense nationalism (what he described as "integral nationalism") and a belief in an ordered, elitist society. These were the bases of his support for both the monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church (he had no personal loyalty to the house of Bourbon-Orléans and was an agnostic for most of his life).

Like many people in Europe at the time, he was haunted by the idea of decadence, partly inspired by reading Taine and Renan. He felt that France had lost its grandeur during the Revolution of 1789, a grandeur inherited from its classical Roman roots and developed by, as he put it, "forty kings who in a thousand years made France." The Revolution, he wrote in the Observateur français, was a revolt, a negative and destructive work. He traced this decline further back, to the Enlightenment and the Reformation; he described the source of the evil as "Swiss ideas", a reference to Calvin and Rousseau. He blamed it on what he called "Anti-France", defined as the "four confederate states of Protestants, Jews, Freemasons and foreigners" (his actual word for the latter being the far less polite 'métèques'). Indeed, to him the first three were all types of internal foreigner. Anti-Semitism and anti-protestantism were common themes in his writings. He felt that the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Revolution had all contributed to individuals putting themselves before the nation, with consequent negative effects on the latter, and that democracy and liberalism were continuing to make matters worse.

During World War I, Jewish businessman Emile Ullman was forced to resign from the board of directors of the "Comptoir d'Escompte" after Maurras called him an agent of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

Although the political solutions he advocated were familiar ones for French monarchists, in many ways Maurras did not fit in with the monarchist tradition in France. His views were - at least according to him - based on reason rather than sentiment, loyalty and faith. Indeed, he was an admirer of the positivist philosopher Auguste Comte, like many of the Third Republic leaders he detested. Whereas most monarchists refused to engage in political action - by this time many had retreated into an intransigently conservative Catholicism and indifference to the affairs of a world they now saw as irredeemably wicked - Maurras was prepared to engage in political action, both orthodox and unorthodox (the Action Française's paramilitary Camelots du Roi frequently engaged in street violence). He adopted the phrase "La politique d'abord" (politics first) as his slogan.

His views on religion were also very different. He supported the Catholic Church both because it was so intimately bound up with French history and because with its hierarchical structure and distinct clerical elite it mirrored his image of an ideal society. It was, he considered, the mortar which held the nation together. However, he mistrusted the Gospels, written, as he put it, "by four obscure Jews" (Le Chemin du Paradis, 1894), and admired the Church for having managed, in his opinion, to conceal much of the Bible's dangerous teachings. In fact, he was an advocate of a Catholicism without Christianity, insofar as it was possible.

In spite of this, he gained a large following among monarchists and Catholics, including the Assumptionists, and received the backing of the pretender himself.

Nonetheless, his agnosticism worried parts of the Catholic hierarchy, and in 1926 some of his writings were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum by Pope Pius XI (the Action Française movement as a whole was condemned at the same time) — a great shock to many of his followers, who included a not inconsiderable number of the French clergy. The condemnation was lifted in 1938, the same year that Maurras was elected to the Académie française.

Works

  • 1889 : Théodore Aubanel
  • 1891 : Jean Moréas
  • 1894 : Le Chemin du Paradis, mythes et fabliaux
  • 1896-1899 : Le voyage d'Athènes
  • 1898 : L'idée de décentralisation
  • 1899 : Trois idées politiques : Chateaubriand, Michelet, Sainte-Beuve
  • 1900 : Enquête sur la monarchie
  • 1901 : Anthinéa : d'Athènes à Florence
  • 1902 : Les Amants de Venise, George Sand et Musset
  • 1905 : L'Avenir de l'intelligence
  • 1906 : Le Dilemme de Marc Sangnier
  • 1910 : Kiel et Tanger
  • 1912 : La Politique religieuse
  • 1914 : L'Action française et la religion catholique
  • 1915 : L'Étang de Berre
  • 1916 : Quand les Français ne s'aimaient pas
  • 1916-1918 : Les Conditions de la victoire, 4 volumes
  • 1921 : Tombeaux
  • 1922 : Inscriptions
  • 1923 : Poètes
  • 1924 : L'Allée des philosophes
  • 1925 : La Musique intérieure
  • 1925 : Barbarie et poésie
  • 1927 : Lorsque Hugo eut les cent ans
  • 1928 : Le prince des nuées.
  • 1928 : Un débat sur le romantisme
  • 1928 : Vers un art intellectuel
  • 1929 : Corps glorieux ou Vertu de la perfection.
  • 1929 : Promenade italienne
  • 1929 : Napoléon pour ou contre la France
  • 1930 : De Démos à César
  • 1930 : Corse et Provence
  • 1930 : Quatre nuits de Provence
  • 1931 : Triptyque de Paul Bourget
  • 1931 : Le Quadrilatère
  • 1931 : Au signe de Flore
  • 1932 : Heures immortelles
  • 1932-1933 : Dictionnaire politique et critique, 5 volumes
  • 1935 : Prologue d'un essai sur la critique
  • 1937 : Quatre poèmes d'Eurydice
  • 1937 : L'amitié de Platon
  • 1937 : Jacques Bainville et Paul Bourget
  • 1937 : Les vergers sur la mer.
  • 1937 : Jeanne d'Arc, Louis XIV, Napoléon
  • 1937 : Devant l'Allemagne éternelle
  • 1937 : Mes idées politiques
  • 1940 : Pages africaines
  • 1941 : Sous la muraille des cyprès
  • 1941 : Mistral
  • 1941 : La seule France
  • 1942 : De la colère à la justice
  • 1943 : Pour un réveil français
  • 1944 : Poésie et vérité
  • 1944 : Paysages mistraliens
  • 1944 : Le Pain et le Vin
  • 1945 : Au-devant de la nuit
  • 1945 : L'Allemagne et nous
  • 1947 : Les Deux Justices ou Notre J'accuse
  • 1948 : L'Ordre et le Désordre
  • 1948 : Maurice Barrès
  • 1948 : Une promotion de Judas
  • 1948 : Réponse à André Gide
  • 1949 : Au Grand Juge de France
  • 1949 : Le Cintre de Riom
  • 1950 : Mon jardin qui s'est souvenu 1950
  • 1951 : Tragi-comédie de ma surdité
  • 1951 : Vérité, justice, patrie (with Maurice Pujo)
  • 1952 : À mes vieux oliviers
  • 1952 : La Balance intérieure
  • 1952 : Le Beau Jeu des reviviscences
  • 1952 : Le Bienheureux Pie X, sauveur de la France
  • 1953 : Pascal puni (published posthumously)
  • 1958 : Lettres de prison (1944-1952) (published posthumously)
  • 1966 : Lettres passe-murailles, correspondance échangée avec Xavier Vallat (1950-1952) (published posthumously)


Preceded by:
Henri Robert
Seat 16
Académie française
Succeeded by:
Antoine de Lévis Mirepoix
fr:Charles Maurras

pt:Charles Maurras

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