Benjamin Tucker considered this Proudhon’s best book — “the most wonderful of all the wonderful books of Proudhon”— and he may well have been right in that judgment. Like many of the greatest works of the last century’ this “most wonderful book” comes to us from a prison cell: a fact which is probably far from insignificant. It is not without cause that the letters of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Nietzsche’s Antichrist, the best poems of Antonin Artaud, Van Gogh’s two or three greatest canvases, Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, and several other of the most significant cultural products of this age, were produced by men who were at the time unwilling “guests of the State.” Nor is it idle to note that some time has been served (unproductively, alas!) by Ford Madox Ford, Nijinsky, Seymour Krim, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jim Peck, and almost everybody else worth a damn as a serious thinker or artist. It is getting to the point where, as Eustace Mullins noted in his biography of Ezra Pound, lack of a police or psychiatric record is looked on, by avante garde, as a sign that a man has sold out.
Festival of Stiffs(Le Festival des macchabées) is the second of Héléna’s ‘Occupation’ novels in which he portrays a gharish vision of the period, exposing the close relationship between organised crime and France’s pro-Nazi collaborators. The story hits the ground running with the two unlikely ‘Resistants’, Maurice Delbart and his friend Bams, in Vichy France in the winter of 1943. Their intelligence-commissioned task is to obtain plans of German fortifications around Leucate in advance of possible Allied landings in Provençe.
In his 2011 book ‘The Pleasures of Crime: Reading Modern French Crime Fiction’ Professor David Platten, a lecturer in French literature and culture at the University of Leeds, looked at, among other French noir writers, André Héléna’s ‘Occupation’ novels from which we have taken the following extracts relating to Les Salauds ont la vie dure, which we have translated as ‘Bastards Die Hard’
“… In Héléna’s Les Salauds ont la vie dure, written shortly after the Liberation, the reader can still feel the heat of oppression and conflict as the main character literally blazes a trail across the country. Héléna’s peripatetic writing existence — he moved frequently from Narbonne to Paris to Leucate, and back again — is reflected in the adventures of Maurice Delbar, hero of Les Salaudsont la vie dure is an outlaw and miscreant with very achy feet. What we read about the Occupation in these novels is funnelled through the perspective, not of a detective, but of a young, mid-ranking gangster from Pigalle, the traditional red-light district of Paris adjoining Montmartre, which is known locally as La Butte, traditional home not only of the French chanson but also of the Parisian gangster.
IN THE 1940s AND 1950s, ten and twenty years on from the civil war, a handful of Spanish anarchist exiles waged a stubborn rearguard action against the Franco regime. With his novel The Spanish Horse, André Héléna remains the only French author to seize upon this feat in order to pay tribute to its obscure heroes.
Raised between Narbonne and Leucate, young André was 17 years old when the Spanish Civil War broke out. He was obviously affected by the ripples from the nearby conflict and later by the spectacle of the republican defeat when 500,000 refugees, a mixture of soldiers and civilians, flooded into Roussillon in February 1939 via every border crossing.
The Taste of Blood (Le Goût du Sang) was published in 1953. The action begins in occupied Perpignan a few days after the Allied landing on the Normandy coast. Stifled by his bourgeois parents, unappreciated by his contemporaries and by the opposite sex, the unprepossessing 19 year old Jacques Vallon discovers that the Occupation of his native France and the imminent arrival of the Allied armies have presented him with the opportunity to vent his spleen as the avenging hand of “resistance”. His war has little to do with patriotism or antifascism but everything to do with his cold-blooded facility with the gun and his newly discovered “taste for blood”. Both of these and his personal frustrations have hoisted him to a position where he wields power of life and death and involve him in a duel with the collaborationist Milice. A brief season of hectic (anti-) heroism before the ghastly prospect (for him) of a return to the normality and anonymity at which he chafes. What will be the ultimate cost to all as a result of his taste for blood? One of André Héléna’s best novels.
In this eBook edition (Kindle, Kobo and MOBI file) of the third volume of the Arena series ($3.00 £2.00) we gather around the proverbial camp fire where we might listen to tunes to make our toes tap and to words which might reach into our hearts and pull us into a future of wild possibilities, daring us to dream. These songs of freedom push against convention, sing of finding ways and means to move beyond the confines of staid convention and the litany of war, poverty and misery that are the direct consequence of the edifice of capitalism and those frightened elites who hide cowering behind it.
In ancient Rome, after Constantine bent his knee to Christ (or at least saw the convenient propaganda in such a coat of many colours), the music of theatre and of festival dismayed the naysayers of the ascending Christian empire that grew in his wake; the frivolity and joyousness of celebrating life became anathema to the new social order bent on obedience to the will of God and, by divine right, those masters who perpetuated his will. And so they banned it.
What dyed-in-the-wool cinephiles have always stupidly misinterpreted as amateurism, nonchalance or ineptitude on Rollin’s part (his disregard for linearity and logic, the influence of theatricality and pataphysics on his thoughts about directing, his well-meaning curiosity for erotic deviancy, his passion for the melodramatic) comes fully into its own as an aesthetic and, may we say, ideological option […] We are transported simultaneously into a Clovis Trouille painting or a Gaston Leroux novel, into a Max Ernst collage and a Grand Guignol play, into the gaudy cover of some old Fantômas and an episode from a silent serial, into The Castle of Otranto and the cavern of The Phantom in Bengal. Swimming against the tide of pyrotechnics in movies that confuse car chases and action, conventions and daring innovations, and digital trickery and mise en scène, Jean Rollin steers us back towards cinema. Genuine cinema, the sort that can make us shudder and cry, the sort that can leave us walking on air.
Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, “La Fiancée de Dracula”, foreword to Pascal Françaix’s Jean Rollin, cinéaste écrivain (Paris: Éditions Films ABC, 2002)
Book, France, World War IIComments Off on LA NUEVE — 24 August 1944. The Spanish Republicans who liberated Paris by Evelyn Mesquida. Preface by Jorge Semprún, four articles by Albert Camus and postscript by General Michel Roquejeoffre. Translated by Paul Sharkey. ISBN 978-1-873976-70-8, 264pp, 16pp photos., paperback. Publication date 8 June 2015.
LA NUEVE — 24 August 1944. The Spanish Republicans who liberated Paris by Evelyn Mesquida. Preface by Jorge Semprún, four articles by Albert Camus and postscript by General Michel Roquejeoffre. £15.00/ €25.00 / $23.00 (+ p+p — £4.00, UK; EU, €9.00; U.S., $12.00). Publication date: 8 June 2015. A limited number of advance copies are available for purchase now. Orders (inc. Paypal payments) to email@example.com (don’t forget the postage!)
Officers, NCOs and soldiers of the 9th Company of the 3rd March Regiment of Chad, La Nueve. First row, l-r: Martín Bernal, Antonio Gualda, Bullosa, Zubierta, Domínguez ‘el Extremeño’, José Cortés, Domínguez ‘el Valencia’, Blanco, Lt. Campos ‘el Canario’, Amado Granell, Sarasqueta, Captain Dronne, Montoya, Federico Moreno, Salvador, Antonio. Others include: Lozano, Pradas, Pedro Castillo, LLorden, Juán Molina, Delgado, Elías, Escudero, Royo, Antonio Curto, Felipe Rodríguez ‘el Feo’, Antonio Sanchez, Salinas, Anarés Carayón, Juán Fuentes, Ginés Martinez ‘el Gallego’, Valero ‘el Sevilla’, Gutiérrez, Fernando Moreno, Antonio Muela, Vazquez, Hernández, Jordi Gomis, Luís Morales, Andrés Castillo, Santi, Liébana, Antonio Navarro ‘Carapalo’, Abenza, Baños, Pablo Cañero ‘el Murciano’, Llesta, Clarasó, Floreal, Jacinto Paniagua y Fábregas. A number of the men chose not to appear in the official photograph citing their past activities and possible future involvement in clandestine anti-Francoist activities. Lt. Campos, for example, and his other anarchist comrades of ‘La Nueve’ set up arms and materiel caches for the urban and rural guerrillas of the Defence Commission of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in exile.
They are the heroes from a hidden page of history, the soldiers of La Nueve, No 9 company of General Leclerc’s renowned 2nd Armoured Division (DB). According to the history books, the liberation of Paris began on 25 August 1944 when General Leclerc’s 2e Division Blindée (2e DB) entered the city via the Porte d’Orléans. In fact, Leclerc began the push earlier, on 24 August, when he ordered Captain Dronne, commander of No 9 Company, to enter Paris without delay. Dronne thrust towards the city centre via the Porte d’Italie at the head of two sections from No 9 Company, better known as La Nueve.
The first vehicle from La Nueve reached the Place d l’Hôtel de Ville on 24 August 1944 shortly after 8.00 p.m., “German time”. Amado Granell – Paris’s very first liberator! – climbed down from his half-track to be greeted inside the city hall by Georges Bidault, president of the National Resistance Council, Jean Moulin’s successor. Granell, like 146 out of the La Nueve’s 160 men, was a Spanish republican!
The Battle of Paris cost the 2nd Armoured Division the lives of 71 men and 225 wounded. Material losses included 35 tanks, six self-propelled guns, and 111 vehicles.
On 26 August, General De Gaulle strode down the Champs Élysées accompanied by four vehicles from La Nueve acting as his escort and protection detail. The procession was led by Amado Granell and his armoured car.
Survivors of the Spanish Revolution and the civil war against Franco, having enlisted in the Free French army, the Spaniards of La Nueve — anarchists, socialists, communists and republicans — went on to liberate Alsace and Lorraine and continued fighting relentlessly into Germany as far as the Nazi heartland in the Obersalzberg in the Bavarian Alps. Of the 146 men who landed in Normandy, only 16 survived to be the first to enter Hitler’s Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest.
Evelyn Mesquida has done justice to these heroes of freedom, honouring the pledge she made to the survivors. Journalist and writer Evelyn Mesquida, is honorary chair of the Foreign Press Association in Paris and vice-chair of the European Press Club. She is the author of La Mémoire entre silence et l’oubli. Les soldats oubliés de la libération de Paris (Presses de l’université de Laval, Québec, 2006) and of Sorties de guerre des hommes de ‘la Nueve’ (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2008)
Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid is usually, and rightly, called his masterpiece. While the high quality of all his work makes it hard to say whether this classic can be considered his best, it is fair to say that it is probably his most famous and one of his most widely read. Suffice to say, that it is rarely out of print testifies to its importance as well as the quality and timelessness of its message.
It is often called an anarchist classic. This is not entirely accurate. Yes, it is a classic and it was written by an anarchist, indeed the leading anarchist thinker of the time. However, it is not a book about anarchism. It is, first and foremost, a work of popular science, a “best-selling work,” which made co-operation “well known in lay society” while ensuring it would “be discussed among biologists in the following decades.” It was aimed at rebutting the misuse of evolutionary theory to justify the status quo, but its synthesis of zoological, anthropological, historical and sociological data achieved far more and, consequently, its influence is great. “It is arguable that of all the books on co-operation written by biologists,” suggests Lee Alan Dugatkin Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Louisville, “Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid had the most profound affect on biologists, social scientists, and laymen alike.” Anthropologist Ashley Montagu dedicated his book Darwin, Competition and Co-operation, to Kropotkin, stating it was a “classic” and “no book in the whole realm of evolutionary theories is more readable or more important, for it is Mutual Aid which provides the first thoroughly documented demonstration of the importance of co-operation as a factor in evolution.”
This is not to say that anarchism plays no part in it nor that it holds nothing of interest for anarchists or anarchist theory. Far from it! The very mode of analysis, the looking into mutual aid tendencies of everyday life is inherently libertarian. It flows from the “bottom-up” and is rooted in popular history. More than that, it is documented with the skill of a talented scientist and, in this, it is somewhat unusual. It is often noted that Proudhon, the founding father of anarchism, was unique in being a socialist thinker who was also working class. In the case of Kropotkin, he was one of the few socialist thinkers who was a trained scientist, an extremely gifted one according to his peers. This education in the scientific method can be seen from all his work, but most obviously in Mutual Aid.
El testimonio de una vida consagrada a pelear por la libertad, entre el sol y la tormenta es, a la vez, un documento excepcional que nos permite conocer mejor uno de los episodios más extraordinarios de la guerra civil española: la lucha de las mujeres libertarias. En aquellos momentos decisivos de la historia europea, estas mujeres salieron a la calle junto a sus compañeros para defender la República y la revolución social. Acabada la guerra, muchas de ellas continuaron trabajando por sus ideas en el exilio.
Sara Berenguer Lahosa nació en 1919, en la barcelonesa barriada de Poble Sec. Hija de obreros, cuando estalla la guerra civil, ocupará diversos cargos: comité revolucionario (CNT-FAI) del barrio de Les Corts y Comité Regional de Catalunya de las industrias de la edificación, madera y decoración (CNT-AIT). Actividades que alternó con su colaboración de maestra en el Ateneo Cultural de Les Corts y en las Juventudes Libertarias.