Simone Téry (1897-1967): Writing the history of the present in inter-war France

Angela Kershaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Simone Téry (1897-1967), French journalist and novelist, joined the French Communist Party in the mid-1930s after visiting the Soviet Union. She worked as a correspondent for L'Humanité, Vendredi and Regards; the latter post took her to Spain during the Civil War. The resulting texts, Front de la liberté: Espagne 1937-1938 (1938) and O l'aube se lève (1945), form the basis of my analysis of Téry's desire to write the history of the present in inter-war France. These texts, a work of reportage and a novel respectively, illustrate the relationship between the poetic, or imaginative, and the historical, or factual, in historical fiction. This relationship is particularly relevant to the literary history of 1930s France, given the highly politicized nature of literary production in the period and the resulting debates over the nature and future of the realist novel. Téry's rejection of modernism in favour of socialist realism suggests a conversion, common in left-wing writers of the period, to the notion that the modernist text is incapable of containing history. The essay raises the question of French women writers relationship to committed literature in the 1930s, and demonstrates that women were active in this domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-20
Number of pages13
JournalFeminist Review
Issue number85
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007


  • Commitment
  • Genre
  • Inter-war France
  • Literature and politics
  • Modernism
  • Reportage
  • Simone Téry
  • Socialist realism
  • Spanish civil war
  • Women's writing


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