AndrÉ Chamson, 1900-1983

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This critical biography, in two volumes, fills a gap in an important area of twentieth-century French Studies – there is no biography of André Chamson in English. Some exist in French, but this writer is only familiar to English readers and scholars through his better-known novels. André Chamson’s place in French literature is assured in France, but his work is not well-known in Britain or in other English-speaking communities, mainly owing to the lack of scholarly criticism and biographical studies in existence in the English language. The works of Chamson have much to offer Anglophone readers, in terms of providing a more detailed and informed picture of France, as a nation and as a collection of regional identities. His substantial historical work (novels, essays, biographies) offers a knowledgeable insight into modern France, particularly since the revolution. One of Chamson’s major concerns was the study of political, religious and social conflict. His works express and illustrate these lifelong interests. Indeed, a number of these issues are still topical; their origins and their development are effectively illuminated by Chamson’s narratives of collective memory. This biography traces the life and times of one of France’s most prominent and active writers in the twentieth century, as well as providing substantial critical analyses of his works. It also features the development of French society in the twentieth century as the context in which André Chamson and his contemporaries (such as Albert Camus, André Gide, Jean Giono, André Malraux, Charles Maurras, Jean-Paul Sartre, and many others) lived and wrote. The biography is intended for students and scholars of French literature, particularly those who are interested in literature, politics, history and political ideology in the twentieth century. It should also appeal to those interested in contemporary literary studies, and to social, cultural, and political historians, as well as to students, scholars, and specialists in the area of the history of ideas.


“Why read André Chamson today in France and abroad? For many reasons that concern his life and the quality of his writing. In her preface, his daughter, Frédérique Hébrard, mentions the multiple facets of this writer who lived through the twentieth century and made his mark on it. [There is] the fascinating complexity of his literary and intellectual itinerary ... The methods which lead us to Chamson and to his texts are, therefore, no detour, especially when the texts appear so clearly in focus as they do in this biography. Dr. Peter Tame’s decision to write a ‘critical biography’ of André Chamson is extremely interesting. My thanks to him for engaging with this writer and ensuring that his voice resonates in France and abroad, as it did when he was alive, for the greatest benefit of the English reader.” – (from the Preface) Mme. Micheline Cellier-Gelly, Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres de Nîmes

“ ... This is, notably, a critical biography: approaching the life and times [of André Chamson] through focused analysis of the literary output, which spans many genres and forms of expression. Dr. Tame is not only an accomplished literary scholar, but also a specialist in twentieth-century political movements and a student of ideological history. This book will bring these complementary perspectives together in an impressive balance and produce a book of greater topicality than it might seem, capable of appealing to readers with a wide variety of interests.” – Peter Broome, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast

“ ... This is a comprehensive biography, thorough and well-documented, and sustained throughout by a close and sensitive reading of all areas and aspects of Chamson’s works. Analysis of Chamson’s works is skillfully interwoven with biographical and historical narrative, highlighting Chamson’s role as a witness to major political, social and religious controversies ...” – David Nott, Professor Emeritus, Lancaster University

“Although the name André Chamson is largely unfamiliar these days, he was, in his time, a significant actor on the French intellectual, moral and political scene. This was mainly in the 1930s and 1940s, when political questions were inseparable from literary activity ... This whole period is now coming under closer scrutiny than ever, and the re-emergence of Chamson as a considerable figure in his own right is well underway ...” – Professor Richard Bales, Queen’s University Belfast

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Commendatory Preface
1. The Childhood Years
2. War and Postwar (1914-1924)
3. Literary Apprenticeship (1924-1930)
4. Politics in Paris, the Provinces and Beyond: André Chamson’s Political Awakening
5. Political Commitment (1935-1939)

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