Aron, Robert

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ARON, ROBERT (1898–1975), French author. After completing classical studies and being wounded in World War i, he engaged in literary activity, as private secretary to the powerful critic R. Doumic and as a participant in the rising publishing enterprise nrf. His main interest was the reform of political life in a broad socialist, universalist, and ethical perspective, known as "personalism." He was active in the movement "Ordie Nouveau," which saw in federalism a remedy against fascism. With Arnaud Dandieu (1897–1933), Aron wrote Décadence de la nation française (1931), Le Cancer américain (1931), La Révolution nécessaire (1933), and (on his own) La Fin de l'apres-guerre (1938). Arrested as a Jew in occupied France during World War ii and liberated as a result of the intervention of Vichy authorities, he joined the Resistance movement and remained in hiding until he reached free Algiers. There he worked for the provisional French government and returned to his beloved themes in writing: Fraternité des Français (1943), Précis de l'unité française (1945), and Principes du fédéralisme (1948, with Alexandre Marc).

After the liberation of France he devoted himself principally to contemporary and religious history. In addition to general studies on topical problems, Les Origines de la Guerre d'Algérie (1962), Les Grands dossiers de l'histoire contemporaine (1962), Les Nouveaux grands dossiers de l'histoire contemporaine (1963), Le Socialisme français face au marxisme (1971), he studied the internal rivalry which had divided the French people in World War ii in his books Le Piege ou nous a pris l'histoire (1950), Histoire de Vichy (1954, with the half-Jewess Georgette Elgey [Lacour-Grayet]), Histoire de la libération de la France (1959), Charles de Gaulle (1964), and Histoire de l'epuration (four volumes, 1967–75). The tragedy of the fate of European Jewry awakened his Jewish consciousness, which he sought to confront with his Christian-based education in works such as Retour a L'Eternel (1946), Portrait de Jésus (1951), Ce que je crois (1958), Les Années obscures de Jésus (1960), the first volume of a Histoire de Dieu (1963), Ainsi priait Jesus enfant (1968), Discours contre la methode (1974), Lettre ouverte a l'Eglise de France (1975). Towards the end of his life he was reaching a neo-orthodox position – a living approach to the traditional teachings. His prestige in the world of literary criticism led to his election to the Académie française (1974), but he died a few days before the official ceremony.


H. Smolowski, R.A. est entré a l'Académie … (T.J. Hebdo, 298, March 15–21, 1974); P. Viansson-Ponté, La Mort de R.A. (Le Monde, April 22, 1975).

[Moshe Catane]