Friday 6 November 2009

Darquier de Bellenoix

The adjective egregious is extremely useful when describing something surpassingly unpleasant but it’s pitifully inadequate when it comes to describing Louis Darquier, fascist rabble-rouser, professional anti-Semite and enthusiastic deporter of Jews from Vichy France. Carmen Callil, in her grimly fascinating book, Bad Faith (2007) paints a portrait of a man in possession of every known defect of character and totally devoid of human decency. Darquier’s progress from drunken, lecherous, homeless scrounger to a senior position in the bureaucratic machine for the elimination of French Jewry, in the pay of both the Nazis and the Vichy government is set out in great detail by Callil. The misadventures of his Australian wife and the damage they collectively inflicted on their abandoned daughter form another strand in the book. One of Darquier’s distinguishing characteristics was his absurd personal vanity and self regard. This inspired him to add the suffix, de Pellepoix, to his name to elevate himself into the nobility and by doing so provided his critics in the Left wing press with a wonderful opportunity to remix his name for comic effect. Carmen Callil listed a selection of them for our enjoyment. Even to an English ear they have a splendid ring to them.

Darquier de CarQuoi
Barbier de Pellepoix
Darquier de Pelleharicots
Darquier de Pellepouah
Darquier von Pellepoix
Darquoi de Quel Pied
Carquoi de Quelpied
Cartier de Petitpois
Darquoy de Pelletier
Darquier de Montcuq

It would have been a fine thing if the combatants in France’s culture wars could have confined their activities to the exchange of inventive insults, but sadly this was not to be the case.

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