Newspapers of the French Left in Provence and Bas-Languedoc during the First World War.
Collins, Ross F.
University of Cambridge
Faculty of History
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Collins, R. F. (1992). Newspapers of the French Left in Provence and Bas-Languedoc during the First World War. (doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.16016
The purpose of this dissertation is to offer a contribution to the historical debate concerning the nature and extent of 'union sacrée' in France during the First World War. Two non-military mass-circulation daily newspapers oriented to the political left (gauché) are consulted in their entirety between 15 June 1914 and 31 December 1918: 'Le Petit Provencal' of Marseille and 'Le Petit Meridional' of Montpellier. These newspapers offered a published voice for 'gauchiste' groups in Provence and Bas-Languedoc, including Radicals, socialists, trade unions, and even occasionally anarchists. 'Le Petit Provencal' can be defined as socialist, one of only two such large-circulation daily newspapers in France before the war (the other was in Lille; 'L'Humanité' of Paris was a small-circulation 'journal d'opinion'), and 'Le Petit Meridional', Radical, although opening its pages to views of socialists and trade unions. Both of these newspapers served a region distinctive in France for its long 'rouge' political tradition, and its separatist sentiments. In addition to these sources, considerable primary material is adduced from police, military, and other archives to show how censorship and morale issues influenced these newspapers and the region they served during this period. This study indicates that while these newspapers did join in a 'truce' ('la tréve') in early August, they did not truly reflect a 'union sacrée' after the first few weeks of war. In addition, this work shows that the press was not nearly as universally sensationalistic and wildly inaccurate as has been assumed: much of the 'eyewash' (bourrage de crâne) was effectively eliminated after the first few weeks of war, and nearly all issues important to understanding the conflict in France were presented to readers at some point. Censorship was predictably strong, but not invincible, and the material it did allow published is often surprisingly candid and accurate. Material presented in this thesis concerning the nature and influence of 'union sacrée' generally support conclusions reached by modern French historians Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Jean-Jacques Becker in their studies of trench newspapers and civilian war morale reports.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.16016