The Shameful Peace: How French Artists and Intellectuals Survived the Nazi Occupation

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Overview

"The German occupation of France from 1940 to 1945 presented wrenching challenges for the nation's artists and intellectuals. Some were able to flee the country; those who remained - including Satre and Celine, Picasso and Matisse, Cortot and Messiaen, and Cocteau and Pagnol - responded in differing ways. This fascinating book is the first to provide a full account of how France's artistic leaders coped under the crushing German presence. Some became heroes, others villains; most were simply survivors." Filled with anecdotes about the artists, composers, writers, filmmakers and actors who lived through the years of occupation, the book illuminates the disconcerting experience of life and work within a cultural prison. Frederic Spotts uncovers Hitler's plan to pacify the French through an active cultural life, and examines the unexpected vibrancy of opera, ballet, painting, theatre, and film in both the Occupied and Vichy Zones. In view of the longerterm goal to supplant French with German culture, Spotts offers moving insight into the predicament of French artists as they fought to preserve their country's cultural and national identity.
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Editorial Reviews

National Post

"Spotts provides a detailed, intimate account of French artists in nervous co-existence with the Nazis."—Robert Fulford, National Post

— Robert Fulford

The Guardian G2

“A fascinating account of how famous writers, artists, and intellectuals living in France during the war survived the Nazi occupation; a whole spectrum from heroes to collaborators.” — Marcel Berlins, Guardian G2

— Marcel Berlins

New Statesman

"Admirably forensic and entertaining . . . a set of refreshing opinions on familiar figures such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and the rest of the crowd clustered around the cafes of Saint-Germain-des Prés. . . . [A]n excellent book." — Andrew Hussey, New Statesman

— Andrew Hussey

Wall Street Journal

“Carefully, and authoritatively written. . . . [This book] lifts the lid on one of the least known—and most shameful—episodes of the period.”—Wall Street Journal

Atlantic

"Those unlucky enough to have to live in Nazi-occupied France ran the gamut from Resistance heroes to enthusiastic collaborators; most just tried to get on with their lives and work. Spotts shows that those involved in the life of the mind and imagination were no exception. He presents the individual cases with a clear, and therefore subtle, eye."—The Atlantic

H-France Review

"This is an important store and the general reader will gain a useful insight into French artistic life during the Occupation and the Epuration."--Nicholas Hewitt, H-France Review

— Nicholas Hewitt

National Post - Robert Fulford

"Spotts provides a detailed, intimate account of French artists in nervous co-existence with the Nazis."—Robert Fulford, National Post
The Guardian G2 - Marcel Berlins

“A fascinating account of how famous writers, artists, and intellectuals living in France during the war survived the Nazi occupation; a whole spectrum from heroes to collaborators.” — Marcel Berlins, Guardian G2

New Statesman - Andrew Hussey

"Admirably forensic and entertaining . . . a set of refreshing opinions on familiar figures such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and the rest of the crowd clustered around the cafes of Saint-Germain-des Prés. . . . [A]n excellent book." — Andrew Hussey, New Statesman

H-France Review - Nicholas Hewitt

"This is an important store and the general reader will gain a useful insight into French artistic life during the Occupation and the Epuration."--Nicholas Hewitt, H-France Review
Wall Street Journal

“Carefully, and authoritatively written. . . . [This book] lifts the lid on one of the least known—and most shameful—episodes of the period.”—Wall Street Journal

Atlantic

"Those unlucky enough to have to live in Nazi-occupied France ran the gamut from Resistance heroes to enthusiastic collaborators; most just tried to get on with their lives and work. Spotts shows that those involved in the life of the mind and imagination were no exception. He presents the individual cases with a clear, and therefore subtle, eye."—The Atlantic

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300132908
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Frederic Spotts is an independent scholar who has written widely on cultural topics, published books on German and Italian politics, and edited The Letters of Leonard Woolf. He is the author of Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival and, most recently, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics. He lives in France.
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Table of Contents

1 The Judgement of Paris 1

2 Good-bye to All That 6

3 Oh, What a Lovely War! 31

4 'I Get a Kick out of You' 52

5 Bonjour Tristesse 73

6 Songs without Words 91

7 Artful Dodgers 145

8 Enigma Variations 192

9 Faiblesse Oblige 221

10 Human, All Too Human 254

Sources 265

Index 272

Acknowledgements 284

Photograph Acknowledgements 285

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    insightful and convincing

    Frederic Spotts proves his point beyond a doubt...that without French artists and intellectuals, the culture of France, and maybe France itself, could have been lost to the Nazis in World War II.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    An enlightening read

    This book allows readers to see how France was in danger of losing its identity during the second World War, holding nothing back. It is an enlightening read for anyone who, as mentioned by another reviewer, is interested in France or anything French.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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