Clemenceau by Jean Martet

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Jean Martet
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Book review

CLEMENCEAU THE EVENTS OF HIS LIFE AS TOLD BY HIMSELF TO HIS FORMER SECRETARY, JEAN MARTET PREFACE EVERY time a celebrated political, personage dies, one, two or u host of his surviving intimates and associates fill their fountainpens, send our for writingpaper, hire secretaries and make contracts with publishers to the end that their dead friend or master may be suitably recorded for those who already knew all about him. Occasionally posterity is taken into account, but not often or seriously. The biographers principal intention is to write an extended obituary notice., pointing out the deceaseds virtues, the so frequent occasions on which he was right and his enemies wrong, and, if possible, to produce hitherto unpublished documents wherewith to support new, interesting and perhaps sensational revelations, This book has no such purpose. The impulse which led to its writing and the circumstances under which it was written are fully set forth by the author in his first chapter and need not be elaborated here. Mis unique contact with Clemenceau led to an unrivalled opportunity for know ledge of him, particularly during those nightmare days of the last year of the war. That knowledge, as in the case of countless others, led to respect and boundless admira tion but in the case of M. Martet this admiration went a step further and became a deep and lasting affectionan affection which its subject but rarely commanded in his active and pugnacious career. But it is an affection which frankly stops short of idolatry No one can mistake the love and reverence which M. Martet felt for his chief but, equally, no one can fail to penetrate the authors careful selfsuppression and perceive the halfsympathetic, halfsardonic smile with which he regards so many of the activities which occupied his heros lifeseparation of Church and State, universal male suffrage, ideals of Justice and Patriotism, all the panaceas which the mature philosopher Clemenceau came to discard but which the congenital philosopher Martet could never from the beginning have taken seriously. So when the author sets himself to the task of recording his hero, as he explains in the opening pages of his book, he is not concerned with reopening closed debates and giving temporary life to dead issues. His sole idea is to make the world see that unique man, Clemenceau, as he saw him, in three dimensions: Clemenceau speaking, breathing, scolding, eating, philosophising, haggling and musing over the sculptures and pictures which he so deeply and passionately loved. The old political quarrels are allowed to lieClemenceau is not made to argue them over again with Thiers and Gambetta. Who cares? It is more important to know that he loathed Thiers and why, that he respected Gambetta and why, that he adored the painter Claude Monet more than any politician he had ever known. The sole exception to this general rule is the controversial matter which still remains open between Clemenceau and his contemporaries Foch, Poincare, the enemy statesmen and the Allied statesmen at Versailles.

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