Daudet, Léon°

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DAUDET, LÉON ° (1867–1942), French writer and reactionary politician, codirector of L'*Action Française. He was born in Paris, the eldest son of Alphonse Daudet, and inherited his father's talent as a writer if not his moral sensitivity. A bigoted Catholic and anti-Republican from the start, Daudet was influenced by Charles *Maurras' neo-Royalist doctrines and associated with Edouard *Drumont, writing for the violently antisemitic La Libre Parole. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies on an extreme right-wing policy (1919–24) and in 1940 supported the Vichy regime, welcoming its discriminatory policy toward the Jews. Daudet was probably the leading French pamphleteer of his day. He wrote around 100 books and innumerable articles, sometimes signed Rivarol, in which he frequently gave vent to his hatred of Republicans, Dreyfusards, Freemasons, or whoever else did not fit into his narrow and intolerant definition of a true French citizen. On the Jews he was especially virulent, as in his La France en alarme (1904), L'avant-guerre… (1913), and Au temps de Judas (1933). For Daudet, Jews were "goats with human faces, trafficking in gold and dung" whom he threatened with "the vengeance they deserve." Like Maurice *Barrès and Charles Maurras, Daudet subscribed to Drumont's contention that all Jews were potential traitors and the main source of political, social, and financial trouble in France.


M. Hay, Europe and the Jews (1960), 178, 191–2, 197–8; P. Lucchini, Léon Daudet (Fr., 1964); P. Dresse, Léon Daudet vivant (1948).