In his 1924 biography of Mahatma Gandhi, writer Romain Rolland embraced the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and decried the “dictators of Moscow” and the...

In his 1924 biography of Mahatma Gandhi, writer Romain Rolland embraced the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and decried the “dictators of Moscow” and the “idolatrous ideology of the Revolution.”  Seven years later, in a startling reversal, Rolland expressed his support for the USSR and confidence in Soviet leaders:  “The builders had to dirty their hands; we have no right to act like we are disgusted.” What accounts for this striking about-face? How did Rolland, and other French leftists, come to celebrate and actively promote the authoritarian regime of Joseph Stalin? In Generation Stalin:  French Writers, the Fatherland, and the Cult of Personality, Dr. Andrew Sobanet examines the intellectual trajectories of Rolland, Henri Barbusse, Paul Eluard, and Louis Aragon, and their role in the rise of Stalinism and the cult of Stalin in France from the 1930s through the 1950s.  His book also sheds light on contemporary global politics with the recent rehabilitation of Stalin’s image in Russia under Vladimir Putin and the rise of authoritarianism around the world.

Andrew Sobanet, is an Associate Professor in the Department of French and Francophone Studies at Georgetown University. His research focuses primarily on the intersection of politics and literature. His research interests include the twentieth-century novel, the contemporary novel, autobiography, non-fiction film, feature film, and twentieth-century history. He is the author of Jail Sentences: Representing Prison in Twentieth-Century French Fiction (U of Nebraska Press, 2008) and Generation Stalin: French Writers, the Fatherland, and the Cult of Personality (Indiana University Press, 2018). He has also published widely on Vichy France. Since 2011, he has been Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Contemporary French Civilization. He is currently serving as chair of the Department of French and Francophone studies, a position he also held from 2009 to 2015.


Beth Mauldin is an Associate Professor of French at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Her research interests include French cultural studies, film, and the social and cultural history of Paris.