Maurice Barrès (1862 - 1923)

Maurice Barrès


Journalists & intellectuals

Maurice Barrès was a nationalist and an anti-Semite, and therefore naturally an anti-Dreyfusard as well. He was born in Charmes-sur-Moselle on 17 August 1862.

The son of an engineer, Barrès earned a law degree and was part of the literary milieu. In 1884, he published a review, Les Taches d'Encre. He was elected a BoulangistThe Boulangist Crisis
Former director at the Ministry of War, and then a popular minister in the Freycinet cabinet in 1886, the 49-year-old General Boulanger rallied the Opportunist opponents to the Republic. Forced to retire in 1888, he was elected deputy in four departments and in Paris, before being tried for plotting against the State. Sentenced in absentia to life in prison, he committed suicide in Belgium in 1891, on the grave of his mistress.
deputy from Nancy in 1889, and became famous for The Cult of the Ego, a book that contained his first three novels published between 1888 and 1891.

Defeated in the legislative elections in 1893, he became director of the daily newspaper La Cocarde, where he denounced corrupt politicians associated with Jews, and deduced Dreyfus's guilt "by his race"! In 1897, Les Déracinés, the first volume of his trilogy Roman de l'énergie nationale, rejected the legacy of the Enlightenment, which had made a moron of France. According to Zeev Sternhell, it opened the path to anti-Dreyfusism."

At the moment when the first review was under discussion, he viewed the possible freeing of the deportee as "a minor fact," and added: "if Dreyfus is more than a traitor, if he is a symbol, it is another affair: it is the Dreyfus Affair! Hold on!" He denounced the intellectuals as "simpletons, foreigners, and rabid or brainless animals." Lucien Herr responded that the person who hates Jews and Alsatians is a medieval beast: "Against you are both the real people and thoughtful men of goodwill (…) unselfish people, the greater share of people who know to put the law and an ideal of justice before themselves, before their natural instincts and their egotism of groups."

A member of the Académie Française and MP from Paris from 1906, Barrès continued to display a staunch nationalism in his works, including Colette Baudoche and La Colline inspirée. He succeeded Paul DéroulèdePaul Déroulède
Déroulède became famous after the publication in 1872 of a collection of patriotic poems, Chants du soldat. He founded the Ligue des Patriotes in 1882, and was elected deputy in 1889. He was a Boulangist who later denounced the parliamentary Panama chéquards, and who attempted to march on the Elysée presidential palace in 1899. For this he was acquitted by a jury in the Court of Assizes, but was sentenced to ten years' banishment by the High Court. He returned from Spain following the general amnesty of 1905.
as president of the League of Patriots in 1914, and supported the Sacred Union government in his daily column in L'Écho de Paris; this led him, in 1917, to pay homage to the Jews who died for their country in the First World War.

He died in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 4 December 1923, and is buried in his birth-place.