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Jean Giraudoux, just appointed Commissioner General for Information during the Second World War. (SNARK ARCHIVES/PHOTO12 VIA AFP)
FORESTIER'S BOOKBOX. Untranslated novels, untraceable nanars, forgotten oddities… This week, a French disgrace.
Source: "Full powers", the anti-Semitic, racist, dangerously patriotic bunch of Jean Giraudoux

There are books which dishonor their author. This is the case of "Full Powers", by Jean Giraudoux, copyright by Librairie Gallimard 1939. Fascinated by Germany, imbued with Rhineland mythology, imagining a friendly confrontation between Siegfried and the Limousin, Giraudoux meanders between the love of homeland and the acquiescence of the Nazi order. Cautious like the lackey that he is, hometown like the servant of the French State that he will be, bent like the ex-tutor of the son of the Prince of Saxony that he was, the author of "Ondine" and of “Intermezzo” writes: "The proximity of other ideologies, other passions, is not in itself in danger, but a benefit" (Nüremberg laws date from 1935). He pursues : “France is one of the countries whose interference in the board of directors of the universe passes for natural and justified”. What justifies the influence on other peoples: “Our colonization is provocative which is, not the exploitation of an industrious or greedy nation, but the connection with other continents and other races” (Gamelin has just “pacified” Syria with the bayonet).

Praise of the body ("There is no hero of Racine who is not a sportsman"), condemnation of the immigration policy (“Our land has become a land of invasion… by continuous infiltration of the Barbarians”), well-calibrated racism towards certain foreigners (“We find them swarming over every one of our new and old arts or industries, in a spontaneous generation like that of the fleas on the barely born dog”) and, finally, abject anti-Semitism (“Hundreds of a thousand Ashkenazis, escaped from Polish or Romanian ghettos… They bring where they go roughly, clandestine action, embezzlement, corruption and are constant threats to the spirit of precision, good faith, of perfection which was that of French craftsmanship"). Giraudoux-Zemmour, same fight. We hold our noses in front of this smelly book.

pile of crap

The thurifers of Giraudoux seized a sentence in "Full powers", to exonerate the author. There she is : “I have never been able to read on a sign, on a poster or on the headline of a newspaper these words: “La France aux Français” without feeling an unpleasant shock… This sentence, instead of enriching me, dispossesses me ». Beautiful twirl of fake ass: because, in fact, Giraudoux accepts "true Europeans", recalls that he is from Limoges, praises freedom in France and, on the following page, vomits the Jews, “black and inert like leeches in a jar” then proposes to create a Ministry of Race, because “we fully agree with Hitler in proclaiming that a policy only attains its highest form if it is racial”. That is clear. The rest of the book is a collection of Salonnard crap: the decadence of urban engineering (an idea that will earn Giraudoux the enthusiastic thanks of Le Corbusier), praise of great works supported by the "splendor and imagination", evocation of a “undegraded nature”.

In the process, here is that Daladier offers our man the post of High Commissioner for Propaganda. Giraudoux accepts with calculated modesty: "There was no denying it". He adds : “If the president did not choose a politician like England, a popular tribune like Germany, a general like Russia, if he had recourse to a simple writer, it is because he thought that French literature was in time of war what it is in time of peace, an instrument of truth”. In charge of censorship, Giraudoux will soon be nicknamed "Cisaudoux". All is said.

What shocks me the most in "Full Powers" is the presence, on pages 81 and 82, of a talented landscape architect, whom Giraudoux says he "attractiveness" and who is "overflowing with new doctrines and imaginations". This man is called Forestier. To see my name quoted in this book of sinkholes and gurgling enrages me. FF

Full powers, by Jean Giraudoux, Gallimard, 1939. Between €8 and €500 (for a numbered copy in Japan) on Abebooks.

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