DRIEU LA ROCHELLE PIERRE 1893-1945)

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DRIEU LA ROCHELLE PIERRE 1893-1945)


Mesure de la France, autograph manuscript. 1922, 92 in-4 pages in ink on paper mounted on tabs in a small in-4 volume bound in half vellum Bradel style, black morocco title piece.
Important working manuscript of this essay, a melancholy meditation on the future of France, Europe and the World in the aftermath of the Great War. Mesure de la France appeared in 1922 in the Cahiers verts collection directed by Daniel Halévy. The manuscript is complete, except for the first page, which has been replaced by a typewritten text.
Dated at the end "[October struck out] May 1922", it is written in black (or blue-black) ink, without margins, on the front of sheets of beautifully watermarked laid paper Joynson's Parchment (and a few ff. on the back of administrative paper from the Prefecture of the Seine Department. Direction de l'enseignement. Inspection). It has many erasures and corrections, with several passages crossed out, and has been the subject of major reworkings, as evidenced by changes in pagination and many passages cut out and moved.
Some passages are rubbed across the text with blue pencil: "preface", "bible", "chiefs", "war". It is divided into six chapters: I Crime and the Law (pp. 1-7). II Le Crime nous aliène les dieux et les hommes [primitive title crossed out: Les Crimes de la France] (p. 8-18). III The Troubled Spirit (p. 19-33). IV La France au milieu du monde (p. 34-59). V Les patries et l'aventure (p. 60-67). VI The citizen of the world is worried (p. 68-92).
Let us quote one of the deleted passages (p. 61): "The European homelands have come out of this war covered in blood, staggering, soiled in their entrails by the foul work of profit, but their faces are moving, emaciated, exasperated by sacrifice. This does not mean much: all human tendencies are pushed to extremes and refined by conscience. Our patriotic sensitivity is unheard of. It is sickly, made up of anxiety, of doubt, it collects the rest of the religious feeling which no longer finds its ancient way. It grows avaricious roots in every part of our soul. It loses itself in mania and ridicule. It is a mechanical devotion. It is a hallucination".
Drieu "invites the French to become aware of the diminished situation of their homeland in a Europe and a world that have changed since the era of French supremacy. ...] France has committed a crime, matured at the end of the 19th century, consummated at the beginning of the 20th century: it has no more children.
From 1814 to 1914 its demographic position in Europe went from first to fourth place. Moreover, the entry on the world stage of two giant empires, Russia and the United States, introduced a new global outlook that made it appear small between the "new nebulae". France must therefore give up a solitary shine. It has to merge with the new constellations forming in Europe: the era of the Alliances is open, even if that of the Patria is not closed. Through the practice of federation we may perhaps succeed in evoking the soul of Europe. ...] the author invites the French to meditate on the meaning of human effort. In committing its "crime" of not having had enough children for a century, France may have sinned only through an excess of civilization and demonstrated its sense of moderation. It has had the merit of revealing that we must prevent the pullunder of Europe. On the other hand, the exhausting religion of Production raises a great question "about the foundations of our civilization". The answer to this distressing question, which is the tragedy of the modern world, will not necessarily be found by the people who seem to weigh most by their masses" (Frédéric Grover).
Let us quote the astonishing conclusion, when we think of Drieu's fate: "It is not a question of revolutions, restorations, superficial political and social movements, but of something deeper, a Renaissance. While the twentieth century will see the present principle of civilization flourish and become exaggerated, it is necessary that, through an underground work that renews stone by stone the foundations of the Spirit, this century should be the beginning of an era in which the threatening automatism, whose manifestations have just been enumerated, will be overcome. We must renounce tomorrow and work for a day to come. If we believe that life is worth living and that its object is to produce a child, a statue, a closed poem. Unless one prefers to depart from the conventional centre of things, to walk to the edge, to explore death".
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