The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe

By Nora Beloff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
DE GAULLE: MAN AND MONARCH

As that bleak and snow-bound January came to an end, there seemed to be only one topic in the alarmed embassies and foreign offices of the West: de Gaulle. Suddenly everyone seemed to realize that they knew much less about this strange man than they had assumed. What was he up to? What stakes was he playing for? Could he really be preparing to demolish the alliances of the West, and if so, would it be only for personal ambition or with some secret grand design? What kind of man was de Gaulle?

Few people can have studied the de Gaulle phenomenon with more attention than the General himself. He is that rare specimen: a man who invented his own character. He can almost be seen staggering under the weight of a legendary superman whom he himself created for the glory of France and de Gaulle.

Is there still, hidden somewhere inside this incredible artefact, a real person with pity for his fellow men, an occasional urge for pleasure, and a mortal's fear of death? No one will ever know. The man whom the President of France so often refers to in the third person, whose place in history (as he once told Duff Cooper) he takes a little time off each day to examine, and who corresponds so neatly with his own youthful vision of the hero-martyr-patriot -- this is the only de Gaulle the world will be allowed to see.

It is sometimes supposed that this archaic figure (is it by chance that his presidential office in the Élysée is decorated by a classical tapestry of Don Quixote?), brought up as he was in a highly conventional army family, was no more than a small-town pro- vincial officer without any real contact with the intellectual ferment of his time. On the contrary, though it is true that his philosophical curiosity was satisfied early in life, and that he rarely absorbs ideas produced after the First World War, he comes from a distinguished and intellectually eminent family, with judges, historians, teachers, and writers among his forebears.

-19-

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The General Says No: Britain's Exclusion from Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • Chapter One - The Execution 11
  • Chapter Two - De Gaulle: Man and Monarch 19
  • Chapter Three - De Gaulle: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes 28
  • Chapter Four - New Notions of Europe 39
  • Chapter Five - Britain Says No to Europe 50
  • Chapter Six - Europe in Uniform 61
  • Chapter Seven - Europe Splits 70
  • Chapter Eight - Unsplendid Isolation 84
  • Chapter Nine - Macmillan Somersaults 95
  • Chapter Ten - Brussels: First Round 113
  • Chapter Eleven - Brussels: Last Round 132
  • Chapter Twelve - The Débâcle 148
  • Epilogue 172
  • European Institutions 181
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