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Jean Guéhenno was the pen name of Marcel-Jules-Marie Guéhenno, born to a poor family in Fougères in Brittany, France. He had to leave school at age 14, and served in the French army in World War I. He managed to pass the entrance examination for the École normale Supérieure in Paris, and was awarded the agrégation (civil service teaching license) in 1920. He taught at several prominent lycées and also become a writer and literary critic. He specialized in the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writing books such as Jean-Jacques en marge des Confessions (1948), Jean-Jacques, roman et vérité (1950), and Jean-Jacques, grandeur et misère d’un esprit (1952). He served as editor-in-chief of the literary journal Europe from 1929 until 1936, and was a leading essayist in support of the Popular Front government. During the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, he refused to publish, but kept a secret journal, chronicling the abuses of the Vichy government, anti-Semitic persecutions, deportations of Jews, arrests and executions of communists and socialists, and his own efforts in behalf of the Resistance. It was published in France in 1947 as Journal des années noires, 1940-1944, and in English translation in 2014 as Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944. He was elected to the Académie française in 1962. His novel La Jeunesse morte (The Dead Youth), written in 1917-1920 and based on his memories of World War I, was published posthumously in 2008.
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