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Remembering Pierre Drieu La Rochelle:
January 3, 1893 to March 15, 1945

Pierre Drieu la Rochelle

105 words

Pierre Drieu La Rochelle was born on this day in 1893. In commemoration, we are publishing Michael O’Meara’s “Drieu on the Failure of the Third Reich.”

I also wish to draw your attention to the following works already on this site:


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One Comment

  1. James J. O'Meara
    Posted January 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink


    Started to read these pieces on/by Drieu, quite fascinating, especially on what might be called the Roman Tradition. Along the way, found Robert Steuckers series on dandies, also fascinating for the same reason.

    I wrote up a reply to his treatment of Wilde, before I realized that the comments section was closed! Grandpa sure has a tough time with this here intertubes. Since I can’t crumple it up, I thought I would send it to you for your morose delectation [a Catholic confessional concept much loved by Huysmans and other dandies]. Enjoy!

    Fascinating piece, especially linking the dandy to Traditional culture. I must, however, raise a couple caveats regarding the treatment of Wilde.

    First, his mode of dress. While it’s true that Wilde fashioned a provocative public persona, the picture Steuckers presents owes more to Gilbert & Sullivan’s caracature. I have actually devoted a blog post to Wilde’s dress, and note that it was found to be entirely masculine and indeed admirable, by no less than the cowboys and gold miners he partied with during his American lecture tour.

    Let’s see what happened when The Aesthete met The Hard Men. The author writes:

    “From the time Wilde disembarked in New York, Americans were surprised to observe that, despite his elegant hands and languid gestures, the Aesthete was a strapping young man who, offstage, ate and drank with gusto and spoke with genial frankness. They learned that even his oft-ridiculed stage dress of black velvet jacket, lace cravat, silk knee breeches, and patent leather pumps could be understood in terms of pragmatics. As Wilde explained, “When a man is going to walk or row, or perform feats which require a display of strength and muscle, the trousers are done away with and knee breeches are worn.”

    The Hard Men of the West were not bowed down under the twin curses of work and muscular Christianity. Indeed, “that quintessential westerner, the cowboy, enjoyed freedoms unique in Victorian America: intimacy with women outside of marriage, intimate (though not necessarily sexual) relationships with men, and even the playful donning of women’s garb. To this alternative masculine subculture, their eccentric trans-Atlantic visitor would have seemed uncannily familiar, and thus it is no surprise that at least some Westerners found space in their tradition of individualism for one whose masculinity was complicated by a “feminine” aesthetic and appearance.”

    As for the miners own opinions, the Leadville miners “cheered as Wilde drove a silver spike into the lode that would bear his name. Years after his visit, they recalled their guest with affection, one reportedly declaring, “[t]hat Oscar Wilde is some art guy, but he can drink any of us under the table and afterwards carry us home two at a time.”

    Of course, not being English, one can forgive such lapses, especially since he knows far more about the much more obscure Addison and Steele than I ever did; I must follow up on that lead.

    Second, Wilde’s proclivities. It’s true, Wilde was convicted of “crimes against nature,” and indeed due only to his own stupidity. Still, his ‘crimes’ would have been perfectly legal under the Greek or Roman customs that he lauds.

    Moreover, if he is going to go so far as to cite Frithjof Schuon as an exemplar by contrast, then mention should be made of Schuon’s own proclivities. While the charges against him were dismissed, the undisputed evidence [dancing in a self-designed ‘mini-loincloth,’ pressing naked girls to his chest, etc.] is striking enough, and if supposedly indulged in during the worship of both “sacred primordial nudity” and the Blessed Virgin, then they surely resemble the kind of Christian and Dionysian promiscuity and indulgence of the East that the Roman pater familias held in such contempt.

    Hardly a suitable role model to contrast with Wilde!

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