Henry de Montherlant (1896–1972) was born and raised in Neuilly, outside of Paris. Montherlant’s father, who boasted of his connection to the aristocracy, was a rock-ribbed reactionary; his mother spent years in bed; both parents doted on their son. Expelled from high school for homosexual activity, Montherlant studied law briefly, enlisted in the army, and was wounded in World War I. His first novel, The Dream (1922), was a paean to the camaraderie of warriors, and several subsequent works were written in a similar vein. However, in The Bachelors (1934) Montherlant discovered a new interest in the aberrations of human behavior and psychology, and developed his mature voice: sardonic, bemused, without hint of consolation. The Bachelors won the Grand Prix of the French Academy and was followed by four novels that were collected as The Girls (1936–39), one of Montherlant’s major achievements and an international best seller. During WorldWar II , Montherlant remained in occupied Paris and wrote scathingly in right-wing journals about the fallen Third Republic, leading to later charges of collaborationism. He also turned from fiction to drama, rapidly making a name as one of France’s finest playwrights. In 1960, Montherlant was elected a member of the Académie Française. In 1972, after years of worsening health, he committed suicide.
Terence Kilmartin was literary editor of The Observer from 1951–1985. He translated several novels by Henry de Montherlant, including The Bachelors, The Girls, and The Boys, as well as works by André Malraux, Françoise Sagan, and others. Kilmartin’s revision of C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past was published in 1981. He died in 1991.
Gary Indiana is a critic and novelist. His most recent books are Utopia’s Debris: Selected Essays and The Shanghai Gesture, a novel to be published in 2009. From 1985–1988 he was senior art critic for The Village Voice, and has written for New York magazine, Artforum,
the London Review of Books, and other publications.