André Léo

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Léo, André


(pseudonym of Léonie Champseix, nee Béra). Born 1829 in Lusignan; died 1900 in Paris. French social figure and writer.

During the 1860’s, Léo was active in the struggle for equal rights for women. In the days of the Paris Commune of 1871 she worked on the revolutionary newspapers La Sociale and La Commune and joined women’s organizations. She defended the Paris Commune in the January Insurrection of 1871 and fought in the streets of Paris against the Versailles government in May 1871. From 1871 to 1880, Leo lived in exile in Switzerland; she supported the Bakuninists in their struggle against the First International.

Leo’s novel A Shocking Marriage (1862; Russian translation, A Scandalous Marriage, 1865) describes a woman’s liberation through the adoption of a life of peasant labor. The novels Divorce (1866; Russian translation, 1868) and Alina-Ali (1869; Russian translation, 1870) are concerned with problems of the family and marriage. Human happiness outside a working life seemed impossible to Léo—for example, in such novels as The Two Daughters of Monsieur Plichon. The utopian fantasy The Commune of Malenpits (1874) gave a vague picture of a republic of small property owners.

D. I. Pisarev saw Léo’s novels as “very remarkable and useful to a high degree” (D. I. Pisarev, “Romany Andre Leo,” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 6, St. Petersburg, 1897, p. 347). In the late 1870’s and early 1880’s, Léo worked on the Russian journal Slovo (The Word).


Tkachev, P. “Liudi budushchego i geroi meshchanstva.” Delo, 1868, nos. 4–5.
Molok, A. I. “Publitsist Parizhskoi Kommuny (Andre Leo),” Bol’-shevistskaia pechat’, 1940, no. 9.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Another insightful essay is provided by Antje Schrupp who recovers, albeit with very limited sources, the life of four women activists of the First International: Virginie Barbet, Elisabeth Dmitrieff, Andre Leo, and Victoria Woodhull.
Leodile Brera (1824-1900), plus connue sous le nom d'Andre Leo (1) a fait partie de ce groupe de militantes feministes appelees "Petroleuses" qui, sous la Commune, ont activement pris part a l'insurrection parisienne en vue de creer une societe alternative qui offrirait d'autres modes de fonctionnement que celui du Second Empire finissant.
Bien qu'Un Mariage scandaleux ait ete ecrit avant l'institutionnalisation de l'hygiene publique, il est evident a la lecture du roman que les preoccupa tions hygienistes contemporaines liees a la classe paysanne etaient connues d'Andre Leo. En effet, les points cles du discours hygieniste lies aux conditions de la vie paysanne y sont abordes tels qu'ils sont exprimes dans le traite A'Hygiene et maladie des paysans d'Alexandre Layet.
Puisque l'histoire de ce roman repose sur la naissance d'un amour socialement interdit, Andre Leo reprend dans un premier temps, l'idee hegemonique que "la force, la violence meme, imposees par le travail manuel, les mauvaises conditions hygieniques dans lesquelles se deroule l'existence genent la delicatesse des sens et donc celle des sentiments" (Duby and Aries 525) pour s'opposer en fait au discours dominant a ce niveau-la, dans la representation du jeune paysan, Michel, dont la sensibilite et l'intelligence extremes qu'il peine a exprimer, eliminent de fait la rudesse qui lui est attribuee.
L'amour naissant entre Lucie et Michel se developpe au cours du programme de lectures quelle met en place pour lui car il est clair que dans ce roman, Andre Leo investit la jeune fille de cette mission educatrice.
Andre Leo (1824-1900), author of over twenty socially conscious novels, is best known as a participant in the Commune; her name is often mentioned alongside that of Louise Michel as one of the "Petroleuses." (1) Her actual role in the Commune was however quite minimal while her activity as a socialist and feminist writer was fervent and prolific throughout her life.
During the final years of the Empire alone, Andre Leo published ten novels as well as essays on education, communism and women's rights, and numerous articles in La Cooperation, L'Opinion Nationale, L'Egalite and Le Rappel.
Always an independent socialist, in the years following the Commune Andre Leo shunned the authoritarian doctrine of Marx, preferring the more flexible socialist movement inspired by Bakunin.
Though, to my knowledge, Andre Leo never actually used the expression "integral education," her theories on educational reform closely resemble the theories of "integral education" developed by such key figures in nineteenth-century socialism and anarchism as Fourier, Proudhon and Bakunin.
As reading became more prevalent and controversial in France, literary representations of reading also multiplied in the socially conscious fiction of authors like Andre Leo, a novelist and journalist best known as one of the "petroleuses" during the 1871 Paris Commune.
Andre Leo understood well the power of the written word to influence readers.
(42) During the Siege and the Commune, Andre Leo continued to publish articles in socialist journals such as La Republique des Travailleurs, Le Rappel and La Commune.