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French right -- The meaning of "success"  


Fabio Guidali
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 5

Christophe — Thank you for your presentation! Apart from Télémaque itself, which seems really an interesting subject, I think that your paper sheds light on a corner of the vast area we call “popular culture” that could sometimes pass over in silence, especially as far as the 1930s are concerned. In fact, when addressing popular magazines we often tend to divide them into two main groups: the ones that were shaped for the profit, and the ones that were tools for propaganda. Your presentation would fill a gap, analyzing the political perspective in both a peaceful time and a democratic environment, contributing to answer the following question: to what extent were creators of illustrated magazines aware of the great impact they had on their readership?

In this sense, I would ask:

#1 In Télémaque are references to the German (Hitler’s) youth the only references to right-wing forms of youth regimentation or were there also references to the Camelots du Roi (the young supporters of Action Française that would soon be dissolved), who were monarchists and  defended in their turn national myths such as Jeanne d’Arc? This would tell a lot about the political orientation of the periodical.

This is linked to my second point:

#2 Considering Télémaque’s conservative background, are there direct or indirect suggestions on how young readers should vote—or at least stand for politically—in the future? The fact that one of the contributors was Henri de Monthérlant, whom I remember as both supporter of virile values and the author in 1932 of an article against all wars on the centrist newspaper L’intransigeant, lets me assume that also Télémaque was not at all politically charged (not according to a “party” perspective). This would be all the more interesting, as the “French nation” would be considered as an asset beyond any extreme parties, exactly at a time when political connotations are very strong. In your opinion, would this feeling—the need to defend the nation— remain untouched also in the following years, thus also contributing to the birth of Vichy France? And if yes, would we actually consider Télémaque a successful magazine, notwithstanding its actual circulation and duration? I think that such assumptions could bring us to reconsider the ways we look at the “success” of a periodical.

Thank you for your time!

Christophe Premat
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 9

Thank you very much @Fabio for your very interesting questions. I understand the categorization of popular magazines. In fact, there is a crisis of newspapers in France after the end of the First World War, French readers show preferences for magazines. The format was appreciated and the creators of these magazines were quite conscious about the number of readers that they could reach. You can notice that with the editorials but also the presence of sponsors in terms of marketing. Furthermore, this form was quite new, the photographs were systematically used from the 1920s. 

1. At first glance, I thought that Télémaque was closer to far-right magazines as you see the use of national motives (Jeanne d'Arc). It is definitely a conservative magazine but there is no sympathy for monarchism nor for fascist tendencies. In fact, Hitler's youth is presented as a threat, and the editorial wanted to awake the French youth in order to face the enemy.

2. I did not find any direct political suggestion in terms of votes. The tonality is more moralistic with indications on hygiene, education, sports and culture. The aim is to educate young people so that hey become conscious of their belonging to the nation. There is a worry about the geopolitical situation and there is a will to target the young generation so that they avoid being attracted by more radical views. Humour, small caricatures and cartoons are here to entertain. About Vichy regime, it is hard to answer the question in that way as in 1936 there was a new left coalition with the Popular Front that contributed to radicalize the right wing. Télémaque was published in 1934 before that period and in 1934 the main concern was the rise of fascist tendencies. I would need to look deeper into these popular magazines to answer this very interesting question, many thanks!