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Vigné d'Octon, Paul (1859–1943)

Erik Buelinckx


Paul Vigné d'Octon was an anti-colonialist journalist and novelist, a radical parliamentarian, and later in life, an individualist anarchist . Better known by his nom de plume Vigné d'Octon, Paul Vigné was born in the south of France to a fervent republican father, a baker, and a pious Catholic mother. In 1880 he enlisted as a medical officer in the navy to pay for his studies, shipping out for Guadeloupe. Vigné d'Octon spent almost four of his seven years of colonial service in western Africa. On his return, he began publishing articles about his experiences; while not really critical of the idea of colonialism, and retaining a paternalistic view of the African people, his first-hand, emotional literary accounts of atrocities committed by the colonial powers placed him in conflict with his superiors, and he resigned in 1887. Vigné d'Octon then embarked on a literary career in Paris. Over the following years he wrote many novels, some of them based on notes made in Africa, others about rural life in the Languedoc. A cholera outbreak in his native region made him return, and his help earned him the sympathy of the locals. He ran against the colonial party in 1893 and had a seat in parliament for 13 years. He eloquently attacked the abuses and thefts of the colonial “heroes.” La Gloire du Sabre (The Glory of the Sword), an account of the methods used to conquer Sudan, was denied ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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