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Varia Historia

Print version ISSN 0104-8775On-line version ISSN 1982-4343


DAGAN, Yaël. Civilized, barbarians and Europeans Three intellectuals faced the enemy -1914-1925. Varia hist. [online]. 2005, vol.21, n.34, pp.371-394. ISSN 0104-8775.

The conception that war was a struggle for civilization against barbarism, in which personal commitment and the mobilization of citizens would be derived from the feeling of hatred toward the national enemy, was the discourse that established the main axis of systems of social representation in France during the Great War. As collective representation, the radical dehumanization of the enemy (Germany), which with its supposed barbarism would threaten civilization (France), was the formula that was the basis for a great part of the physical and intellectual mobilization of the French. Translated into the personal experience of these men, the hatred of the enemy appears as a real sentiment, internalized by those who experienced the brutality of the war, and a sentiment constructed historically and through identity, which took its form according to the experience of each person. Taking into account the interest of cultural history in restoring the feelings to their rightful place in the construction of the past, this article proposes to follow the careers of three men of letters - André Gide, Jean Schlumberger, and Jacques Rivière - investigating how their life experiences led them to express hatred, producing diverse representations of the enemy at two moments of great commotion in France: the passage from peace to war, in August 1914, and, after victory, the return from war to peace in the period between wars that followed.

Keywords : History; Cultural History; World War II.

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