Témoignage sur le Général de Gaulle : Tapuscrit corrigé et signé

1972217 x 280 mm

"de Gaulle represented for me, as for countless French men and women, one of the rare shreds of hope and dignity in a very dark period.

1 800 



Corrected and signed typescript letter concerning a testimonial on General de Gaulle requested by M. Michel Cazenave for the Institut Général de Gaulle.

Petite Plaisance Northeast Harbor, Maine, USA, 20 February 1972 :


I have received your letter of 7 February asking me to collaborate on a volume of personal accounts of General de Gaulle.
There was a time (1940 and the years that followed) when I joined the Free French movement and the action taken by de Gaulle represented for me, as it did for countless French men and women, one of the rare shreds of hope and dignity in a very dark period. Much later, my feelings towards de Gaulle as head of state were more mixed. I admired some of his initiatives, such as the one that ended the Algerian war; when it came to domestic and international policy, I did not always, far from it, subscribe to his ideals and his programme.. As I live almost constantly outside France, and do not follow French political life in detail, I do not feel competent to pass a definitive judgement on his regime, which it is perhaps too early to do anyway.
As far as the man himself is concerned, and in an area where legend and fact are already intertwined, it would perhaps be even more difficult for someone who has made some of the historian's disciplines his own to venture a judgement. We are obviously in the presence of a very great character, gifted with very 'Old French' characteristics and virtues that are rare today. We can ask ourselves whether his virtues and characteristics (and the ideas or opinions that almost inevitably accompany them) were the most appropriate for a great statesman facing the world of our time. But the question is pointless because we have not the slightest clue as to what a statesman capable of dealing with the dangers that threaten us all really would be. It is already an enormous achievement, and I say this without any trace of irony, for a head of state to die these days, almost in his eighties, without having been personally involved in any major crime.
I think it would be interesting, for a Plutarch of the future, to draw a parallel between these two very different but equally great men, De Gaulle and Churchill, both of whom succeeded in embodying the nation in the eyes of the masses at a time of danger. In many respects, both remained men of pre-1940, and even pre-1914, out of step with the times, which is not necessarily always a reproach, faithful on certain points to ideals or methods that too many errors and mistakes, independently of them, have discredited in the eyes of at least some of us. I'm thinking in particular of the importance attached by de Gaulle to the possession of strike force, to certain prestige projects such as Concorde, which, if I'm not mistaken, were already being undertaken in his time, and to planning that takes more account of the advantages of industry than of the needs of the environment, which in this day and age should take precedence over all other concerns.
Despite these considerable differences of opinion, the personal example of de Gaulle, like that of Churchill, seems to me to be inspiring because of the courage and energy of these two men and, in the case of de Gaulle, because of his pride.
This letter was not written to constitute the reply you asked for, but rather to explain why I feel unqualified to collaborate on the volume you are planning. I therefore do not expect it to be published, but I am not opposed to it being published, but only in its entirety.

Yours sincerely

Marguerite Yourcenar

A typescript version with all the corrections, a sort of final press proof, is enclosed,  on which appears an autograph note in black felt-tip pen: "read and approved for publication marguerite Yourcenar".

USA,1972.In folio, Sheets,217 x 280 mm,2 leaves.

2 hand-corrected typescripts, black ink, signature in green ink.


Marguerite Yourcenar

(Brussels: 8 June 1903 - Bar Harbor USA: 17 December 1987)

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