The death of the royalist writer Ghislain de Diesbach

A prolific essayist and biographer whose tone and aesthetic reflect a vanished world and models, Ghislain de Diesbach de Belleroche died in Viry-Châtillon (Essonne) on December 14 at the age of 92

The death of the royalist writer Ghislain de Diesbach

A prolific essayist and biographer whose tone and aesthetic reflect a vanished world and models, Ghislain de Diesbach de Belleroche died in Viry-Châtillon (Essonne) on December 14 at the age of 92.

Born on August 6, 1931 into a family with roots and values ​​deeply anchored in the world of the Ancien Régime – the nobility is attested to in the Holy Empire from the 15th century – the child is according to the wishes of his father raised “in hatred of the Republic.” Thus he proclaimed his attachment to royalty by his refusal to sing La Marseillaise when the Third Republic was about to collapse.

An early observer of a world that was unraveling, he discovered the acute gaze of a memoirist from the exodus of 1940, pointing out the tragedy and the grotesque of a contemporary adult world which was already foreign to him. Hence his lack of investment, his only horizon being the picturesque memories of forgotten or eccentric characters, recognized works of art and paper creatures – Jules Verne and the Countess of Ségur will have a lasting influence on him. But if he was able, through his volumes of memories, to testify to his stubborn art of cultivating idleness, it was not to the liking of his father who cut off his funds once he was 25 years old.

The dilettante, who barely passed the baccalaureate and ended his university career with a law degree, finds himself forced to find a job, in the insurance field where he, just a trainee, encounters the paternalism and alcoholism which govern. On weekends, Diesbach writes. Short stories (Iphigénie en Thuringe, Julliard, 1960), in an old-fashioned style that he bravely assumed which earned him, in addition to the title of "young master of the unusual", his place at society dinners. Until making it his second job.

Vice-president of the Association of Friends of “Rivarol”

He also crisscrossed France on a motorbike, meeting great writers - if he criticized Jean Giono's outfit and accent, he transfigured Marguerite Yourcenar into "some jolly queen of the Renaissance". René Julliard protects him, welcoming his novels as well as his essays, and little by little two lines emerge in the writer: the defense of ancient savoir-vivre doomed to inevitable obsolescence, which portrays him as an outspoken, sometimes fierce moralist – Small dictionary of poorly received ideas (Via Romana, 2007), New savoir-vivre, praise of good education (Perrin, 2014) -, and the position of the biographer.

Considered a historian since his History of Emigration 1789-1814 (Grasset) whose subject intersects with so many of his values, Ghislain de Diesbach multiplies the portraits of celebrities – Necker (Perrin, 1978), Madame de Staël (Perrin, 1983) , Proust (1991), Chateaubriand (Perrin, 1995) -, acclaimed by the general public. The scientific magisterium singles him out for rigor deemed insufficient but the passing of arms stimulates the one who sees himself as a “duelist”.

More than the security of the archive, it is the art of the accuracy of his portraits that will be remembered. Like this intimate pantheon drawn by the figures of Ferdinand Bac (Perrin, 1979), La Princesse Bibesco (Perrin, 1986), Ferdinand de Lesseps (Perrin, 1998), Abbé Mugnier, the confessor of All-Paris (Perrin, 2003 ) to the explorer Richard Burton (PUF, 2009). The sensitive intelligence of a continent of which he was less the witness than the heir condemned this aristocrat in mourning for an extinguished legitimacy to prolong the reactionary struggles of his youth by displaying his pro-Serbian and hostile positions towards NATO in 1999 and assuming until 2011 the vice-president of the Association of Friends of Rivarol, the oldest weekly of the French far right.

August 6, 1931 Birth in Le Havre (Seine-Inférieure)

1975 “History of emigration 1789-1814” (Grasset)

1991 « Proust » (Perrin)

2009 “Saint-Charles station: memories 1949-1957” (Via Romana)

December 14, 2023 Death in Viry-Châtillon (Essonne)