French Pamphlet to Be Published Stateside
‘Indignez-Vous!’ calls for Resistance-like action, has been accused of anti-Semitism
French Resistance hero Stéphane Hessel’s pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, which despite its brevity and questionable literary merit has sold more than three million (!) copies in Europe since October, will be published in America in September as Time for Outrage. The book has been criticized for its treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with some accusing Hessel of anti-Semitism. The 93-year-old denies it; additionally, like practically every other French intellectual, he is of Jewish descent (albeit only on his father’s side—in fact, his parents and a French man formed the love triangle that inspired the Truffaut film Jules and Jim).
The pamphlet argues that today’s French should cast off their indifference and “get angry!” in the manner of résistants such as himself, a comrade of De Gaulle’s in London who parachuted into France and was captured and sent to Buchenwald. “When something outrages you, as Nazism did me, that is when you become a militant, strong and engaged,” the roughly 4,000-word pamphlet proclaims. “You join the movement of history, and the great current of history continues to flow only thanks to each and every one of us.” And what is Hessel most angry about? “Today, my primary indignation concerns Palestine, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank.”
In The New Republic, Tablet Magazine books critic Adam Kirsch questioned the utility of Resistance-era anger in a time of (mostly) functional politics. Unquestionably a hero and doubtfully intending any harm, Hessel strikes me as a French version of Howard Beale, the Network anchor who instructs us to shout, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” Of course, Beale is a crank, a madman suffering a nervous breakdown. The parody in Paddy Chayefsky’s script isn’t found in the fact that Beale is right, but rather in the fact that somebody so profoundly wrong, albeit in a harmless way, is received as being right because he satisfies certain emotional needs; the film’s malicious villains have use for the anger he inspires because it distracts people from real problems. Beale, and Beale-like anger, is the tool of the true bad guys.
In the spring, in France, another Hessel pamphlet was released, this a collection of interviews titled Engagez-Vous!—“get involved!” That sounds more like it, anyway.
Book by French Resistance Here to Be Published in U.S. [Arts Beat]
A Resistance Hero Fires Up the French [NYT]
Related: The Trouble With Anger [TNR]
Earlier: So, You’re a ‘French Intellectual,’ Eh?
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.