trahison des clercs

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From French: trahison (treason) + des (of the) (a contraction of de (of) + les (the” (pl), “hoi)) + clercs (clerks”, “scholars) = treason of the clerks; originally adopted from the title of the French philosopher and novelist Julien Benda’s 1927 book La Trahison des Clercs (whose first English translation bore the title The Betrayal of the Intellectuals).[1]



trahison des clercs (plural trahisons des clercs)

  1. A compromise of intellectual integrity by members of an intelligentsia.[1]
    • 2003: Colin Falck, American and British Verse in the Twentieth Century: The Poetry that Matters, page 3 (Ashgate Publishing; ISBN 9780754634249)
      The age of the ‘experimental’ and the highbrow has helped to relegate poetry to a condition of irrelevance and triviality, and our collective self-commitment to cleverness and self-consciousness may ultimately (but by whom?) be seen as the profoundest of the twentieth century’s much-discussed trahisons des clercs.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 ‖trahison des clercs” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary [2nd Ed.; 1989]