Henri Massis


Henri Massis (1886–1970), right-wing Roman Catholic critic: contributor to L’Action Française; co-founder and editor of La Revue Universelle. Closely associated with Charles Maurras, his writings include Jugements (2 vols., 1924), Jacques Rivière (1925), and La Défense de l’Occident (1928). A defender of Mussolini and Salazar, later works include Chefs: Les Dictateurs et nous (1939) and Maurras et notre temps (2 vols, 1951).

On 1 Nov. 1945 TSE wrote the following testimonial:

I, Thomas Stearns Eliot, British subject, of 24 Russell Square, London, W.C.1., England, doctor honoris causa of the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol, Columbia, Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, a member of the board of directors of the publishing house of Faber & Faber, Ltd., London, testify that I have known Monsieur Henri Massis for over twenty years. The firm of publishers of which I am a director published an English translation of his Défense de l’Occident; and M. Massis was a contributor to a quarterly review, The Criterion of which I was the editor. I saw M. Massis whenever I visited Paris, and when he visited London. I also received regularly La Revue Universelle of which on the death of Jacques Bainville he became the editor.

The intellectual bond between myself and M. Massis was the common concern for the civilisation of Western Europe, the apprehension of the Germanic danger, and a similar diagnosis of its nature. Germany owed her highest achievement of culture to her allegiance to western civilisation; the future of Europe depended on whether Germany affirmed this allegiance, or whether she abandoned herself to her primitive instincts, seeking barbaric dominion in cultural isolation. After the rise of Hitler it was evident that Germany had taken the wrong course; that Germany was no longer one of the western peoples and that she had become a menace against which Europe should prepare herself. Such were my views, and such, I am sure, were the views of M. Massis, as his writings show. We were also in accord in attaching great importance to the development of the closest possible relations in every way, between France and England.

My conversations with M. Massis, as well as his writings, left me with the strongest impression that he was not only a man of clear vision in these matters, but also a patriot of integrity and probity, who would never hesitate to sacrifice his own interests to those of his country. I should always have said that the love of France was one of his most conspicuous characteristics. And I cannot believe that so passionate a nationalist can be suspected seriously of having used his editorship of La Revue Universelle in order to ensure anything but the consolidation of an intellectual resistance to the plans of Germany for the subordination of his country.