(pseudonym of Daniel Decourdemanche). Born in 1910, in Paris; died May 30, 1942, in Fort Mont Valérien. French author.
Decour was a member of the French Communist Party and a teacher. Having broken away from his bourgeois milieu, he found support in Cartesianism and in the legacy of Stendhal and Heine. He was disturbed by the fate of the “prodigal children” of bourgeois society in the 20th century and the choice they had to make between belonging to the caste system (the novel The Wise Man and the Corporal, 1930) and participating in its destruction (the story “The Schoolboys’ Rebellion,” 1934; Russian translation, 1934) and between Philistine narrow-mindedness and indifference (the travel diary Philisterburg, 1932) and frantic seeking after truth (the novel The Fathers, 1936). In the mid-1930’s Decour joined the struggle against fascism and became a Marxist. In 1938-39 he was the editor in chief of the magazine Commune. To fascist “Pan-Germanism” and racism he opposed the “humanistic Germany” of Schiller, Beethoven, Lessing, and Marx (the essay “What is German Humanism?” 1939). He published the underground magazines L’université libre in 1940 and La Pensée libre in 1941. He was one of the founders of the illegal newspaper Les Lettres françaises and author of the Manifesto of the Authors’ National Front (Les Lettres françaises, September 1942, no. 1). On Feb. 19, 1942, he was arrested. He was executed by the Gestapo. In his last letter, dated May 30, 1942 (in the book Letters of the ExecutedOnes, 1946; Russian translation, 1949), he urges youth to heed the call of Goethe’s Egmont to fight for freedom.
WORKSPages choisies. Paris, 1944.
Comme je vous en donne l’exemple. … Text by J. Decour, introduced by Aragon. Paris, 1945.
REFERENCESBalashov, V. “Vechnozelenye list’ia. …” Literaturnaia gazeta, June 5, 1962.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol.4. Moscow, 1963.
Duclos, J. “Hommage à Politzer, Decour et Solomon.” Nouvelle critique, July-August 1955.
“Le XXIIe anniversaire de la mort de J. Decour.” Les Lettres frangaises, June 4-10, 1964.
V. P. BALASHOV