trahison des clercs

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Borrowed from French trahison des clercs (literally 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] See too:

"In 1927, the French essayist Julien Benda published his famous attack on the intellectual corruption of the age, La Trahison des Clercs. [He used] “clerc” in “the medieval sense,” i.e., to mean “scribe,” someone we would now call a member of the intelligentsia. Academics and journalists, pundits, moralists, and pontificators of all varieties are in this sense clercs. The “treason” in question was the betrayal by the “clerks” of their vocation as intellectuals."[2]


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, Ashgate Publishing, →ISBN, page 3:
      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.