“The Castle of Silence”, an unpublished detective novel by Orléanais Jean Zay

Deposited in the National Archives, the documents and letters by Jean Zay (1904-1944), politician and member of the Resistance during the Second World War, had some nice surprises in store. The manuscript of a detective novel was thus found and published on May 10 by Éditions Le Mail. “The Castle of Silence” is therefore released a year after the reissue of “The fingerless ring”: “It’s really a novel unlike fingerless ringpublished for the first time in 1942 under the pseudonym of Paul Duparc”, says Jean-Pierre Delpuech, director of the collections of the Orleans publishing house.

The perfidy of the human soul

Like the filmmaker Jean Renoir, Jean Zay depicts, in the heavy atmosphere of this novel, the ferocity of social relations, the dark faces and the perfidy of the human soul. Written in 1942, this text will not have the fate hoped for by the publisher René Julliard, who planned to publish it in the “Labat-souris” collection at Sequana. Then imprisoned in Riom (Puy-de-Dôme), the former Minister of National Education and Fine Arts of the first Popular Front government and founder of the Cannes Film Festival (in 1939) was persona non grata in the eyes of the regime. from Vichy.

“This project stopped there for different reasons. Julliard had pretended that there was no more paper because of the war. In fact, his identity had been revealed. Vichy knew that behind Paul Duparc was hiding Jean Zay”, explains Jean-Pierre Delpuech, who sees in this new publication “a way of keeping his memory alive, of making the story of this civic hero, judged during an unfair trial and locked up in difficult conditions in Riom, where he continued to work tirelessly for the Resistance and to write”.

The first printing of this novel, prefaced by the Orleans academic and president of the Cercle Jean Zay Pierre Allorant, was stopped at 500 copies. Other exhumed manuscripts – including a series of tales and short stories – of this “tireless intellectual worker”, inated by the French Militia on June 20, 1944, could give rise to future publications, helping to maintain the memory of this Republican figure, whose ashes were transferred at the Pantheon on May 27, 2005.

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