Drieu la Rochelle, Pierre 1893-1945

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Drieu la Rochelle, Pierre 1893-1945


Born January 3, 1893, in Paris, France; died March 16, 1945, in Paris, France, of suicide by drug overdose and gas inhalation; married Colette Jéramee, 1917; divorced, 1921. Education: Attended the Ecole des Sciences Politiques.


Writer, novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and poet. Military service: Served in World War I in 1914; became sergeant and platoon leader; decorated for leading a bayonet charge at Charleroi in 1914.


Fond de Cantine, Editions de la Nouvelle Review Francaise (Paris, France), 1920.

Etat Civil, Editions de la Nouvelle Review Francaise (Paris, France), 1921, reprinted, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1977.

Mesure de la France, B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1922, reprinted, 1964.

Plainte contre Inconnu, Editions de la Nouvelle Review Francaise (Paris, France), 1924.

L'Homme Couvert des Femmes, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1925.

Le Jeune Europeen, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1927, reprinted, with preface by Dominique Desanti, 1978.

Bleche, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1928, reprinted, 1987.

Geneve ou Moscou, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1928.

L'Europe contre les Patries, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1931.

Le Feu Follet, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1931, published as The Will o' the Wisp, translated by Martin Robinson, Calder & Boyars (London, England), 1966, reprinted, M. Boyars (New York, NY), 1998.

Le Comedie de Charleroi, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1934, published as The Comedy of Charleroi and Other Stories, translated by Douglas Gallagher, Calder & Rivers Press (Cambridge, England), 1973.

Journal d'un Homme Trompe, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1934, reprinted, 1978.

Socialisme Fasciste, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1934.

Beloukia (novel), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1936.

Avec Doriot, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1937.

Revuse Borgeoisie (novel), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1937.

Une Femme a sa Fenetre, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1939.

Gilles (novel), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1939, reprinted, 1973.

Ecrits de Jeunesse, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1941.

Ne Plus Attendre (Notes a Leur Date), B. Grasset (Paris, France), 1941.

Notes pour Comprende le Siecle, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1941.

Chronique Politique, 1934-1945, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1943.

L'Homme a Cheval (novel), Gallimard (Paris, France), 1943, published as The Man on Horseback, translated by Thomas M. Hines, French Literature Publications (Columbia, SC), 1978.

Charlotte Corday, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1944.

Le Francais d'Europe, Editions Balzac (Paris, France), 1944.

Plaintes contre Inconnue, F. Cambriand (Paris, France), 1951.

Les Chiens de Paille, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1964.

Sur les Ecrivains (essays), preface and annotations by Frederic Grover, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1964, reprinted, 1982.

Memoires de Dirk Raspe, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1966, reprinted, 1978.

Idee par una Rivoluzione Degli Europei, G. Volpe (Rome, Italy), 1969.

Secret Journal and Other Writings, translated by Alastair Hamilton, H. Fertig (New York, NY), 1973.

Fragment de Memoires, 1940-1941, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1982.

Journal, 1939-1945, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1992.

Textes Retrouves, Editions du Rocher (Monaco), 1992.

Also author of Exorde ("Final Reckoning") and Interrogation, 1917. Contributor to Surrealist pamphlet essay collection Un Cadavre, 1924. Cofounder of journal Les Derniers Jours ("The Last Days"), 1927; editor of Nouvelle Revue Francaise, 1940.


Le Feu Follet was adapted as a TV movie, France 2, 1994, and as a film, Nouvelles Editions de Films, 1963; short story "La Voix" was adapted as a film, France 3 Cinema, 1992; novel Une Femme a sa Fenetre was adapted as a film, Cinema 77, 1976.


Pierre Drieu la Rochelle was known for his ceaseless analysis of politics in both his life and work. He began his writing career after World War I with two poetry collections reflecting his obsession with the Nietzschean concept of responsibility. In 1919, following a divorce, Drieu la Rochelle began the first of several love affairs that resulted in his reputation as a dandy. During these years he used his writings as a forum for exploring his own emotional and political confusion. In the autobiographical novel Etat Civil (1921) he conveyed his despair over his generation's apparent lack of purpose, and in Mesure de la France (1922) he depicted his native country's spiritual decadence and seemingly destructive capitalism.

Drieu la Rochelle continued to dwell on his own disillusionment in works such as Le Feu Follet (1931; translated as The Fire Within, 1965, and as Will o' theWisp, 1966), a bleak portrait of a heroin addict's degradation and suicide, and the short-story collection La Comedie de Charleroi (1934; translated as The Comedy of Charleroi and Other Stories, 1973). Bernard Bergonzi, writing in the New York Review of Books, called The Fire Within a "cold, painful book, full of a Baudelairian misére, which, if nothing else, shows that Drieu la Rochelle was a writer of very genuine talents." In the novel, Alain Leroy, an aging playboy and womanizer of thirty, finds both his desire and desirability fading, a crisis of considerable importance to him since he has rejected working for a living and has instead been content to live off the resources and generosity of the multiple women in his life. An artist on the verge of failure, Alain sees his collages and other works rejected by the Paris avant-garde crowd. Worse, perhaps, his full-fledged heroin addiction has resisted all attempts to conquer it. There are those who care for him and want to help, but he finds it difficult to connect with them on any meaningful level, elevating his personal suffering to the level of "metaphysical anguish," Bergonzi commented. Alain and his world recede into nihilistic despair, and at the novel's end, suicide appears to be the only answer. In some passages of the novel, Drieu la Rochelle "precisely embodies his theme," which succeeds in giving the book "an intermittent poetic intensity," Bergonzi commented. In a review of the film adaptation of La Feu Follett, New York Times contributor A.H. Weiler commented: "A viewer can appreciate the delicate exploration of Alain Leroy's mind and heart but he is so special a case that it is extremely difficult to relate to his highly special tragic condition. One is often more attracted to the loving or well-meaning people who are seriously anxious to aid and comfort him." Reviewer Alan Stoekl, writing in Comparative Literature, observed that "if Alain is radically different from Drieu he is also his double, disgusted to the point of self-destruction with the modernist tricks he detests but depends upon."

By the mid-1930s, Drieu la Rochelle was thoroughly dissatisfied with conditions in France and therefore joined the national socialists. He began supporting Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and espoused the notion of a unified Europe. Among Drieu la Rochelle's writings from this period is Gilles (1939), a novel about a shiftless young man who finally discovers self-respect while supporting Franco's dictatorship in Spain.

During the German occupation of France, Drieu la Rochelle edited the journal Nouvelle Revue Francaise and contributed to the Revolution Nationale. By 1945, however, Germany's defeat was inevitable, and Drieu la Rochelle's life was in danger. In March, 1945, upon hearing that he was to be tried and executed by the Resistance, he killed himself. It was his third suicide attempt.



Hammond, Robert M., and Marguerite Hammond, editors, Deus Films Francais: Les Visiteurs du Soir et Le Feu Follet, Harcourt, Brace & World (New York, NY), 1965.

Hanrez, Marc, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, Editions de L'Herne (Paris, France), 1982.

Reck, Rima Drell, Drieu la Rochelle and the Picture Gallery Novel: French Modernism in the Interwar Years, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1990.

Soucy, Robert, Fascist Intellectual: Drieu la Rochelle, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1979.


Comparative Literature, winter, 1994, Allan Stoekl, review of Drieu la Rochelle and the Picture Gallery Novel: French Modernism in the Interwar Years.

New York Review of Books, March 25, 1965, Bernard Bergonzi, "Not So Novel," review of The Fire Within.

New York Times, February 18, 1964, A.H. Weiler, "Screen: A Grim Lost Soul: Malle's Fire Within Stars Maurice Ronet"; June 8, 1978, Vincent Canby, "Film: Jorge Semprun's Woman at Her Window: Angles of Love."


Integral Tradition,http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/ (September 23, 2006), critical essay on Pierre Drieu la Rochelle.