In England, where Fascism never took hold, many of the leading modern writers —Yeats, Wyndham Lewis, Eliot, Pound, and Lawrence—were reactionaries who sympathized with that movement. In France, by contrast, the best modern authors—Gide, Malraux, Sartre, and Camus—were passionately committed to the left. Robert Brasillach (1909–45)—“the symbol of the collaborator”—was the exception. Alice Kaplan’s clear, elegant account of Brasillach’s career, trial, and legacy raises several important questions: “the accountability of writers and intellectuals, the power of words to do harm, the possibility of justice during wartime, and the dangers of revisionist history.”

Born in Perpignan, the son of an army officer who’d been killed in a colonial skirmish in Morocco, Brasillach was educated at the elite Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Ecole Normale Supérieure....


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