The Camp of the Saints
Cover of the first edition
|Original title||Le Camp des Saints|
|Publisher||Éditions Robert Laffont|
Published in English
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ4.R227 Cam PQ2635.A379|
The Camp of the Saints (Le Camp des Saints) is a 1973 French novel by Jean Raspail. The novel depicts a setting wherein Third World mass immigration to France and the West leads to the destruction of Western civilization. Almost forty years after publication the book returned to the bestseller list in 2011. The title is a reference to the Book of Revelation (Rev 20:9).
The Camp of the Saints is a novel about population migration and its consequences. In Calcutta, India, the Belgian government announces a policy in which Indian babies will be adopted and raised in Belgium. The policy is reversed after the Belgian consulate is inundated with poverty-stricken parents eager to give up their infant children.
An Indian "wise man" then rallies the masses to make an exodus to live in Europe. Most of the story centers on the French Riviera, where almost no one remains except for the military and a few civilians, including a retired professor who has been watching the huge fleet of run-down freighters approaching the French coast.
The story alternates between the French reaction to the mass immigration and the attitude of the immigrants. They have no desire to assimilate into French culture but want the goods that are in short supply in their native India. Although the novel focuses on France, the rest of the West shares its fate.
Near the end of the story the mayor of New York City is made to share Gracie Mansion with three families from Harlem, the Queen of the United Kingdom must agree to have her son marry a Pakistani woman, and only one drunken Soviet soldier stands in the way of thousands of Chinese people as they swarm into Siberia. The one holdout until the end of the novel is Switzerland, but by then international pressure isolating it as a rogue state for not opening its borders forces it to capitulate.
A translation by Norman Shapiro was published by Scribner in 1975 (ISBN 0-684-14240-6). It was republished in mass market paperback format by Ace Books in 1977 (ISBN 0-441-09120-2), and in softcover format by The Social Contract Press in 1995 (ISBN 1-881780-07-4); The Washington Post reports that reading the novel "focused" the ideas of John Tanton, Social Contract Press' founder.
In 1975 Time magazine panned the novel as a "bilious tirade" that only required a response because it "arrives trailing clouds of praise from French savants, including Dramatist Jean Anouilh ('A haunting book of irresistible force and calm logic'), with the imprint of a respected U.S. publisher and a teasing pre-publication ad campaign ('The end of the white world is near')". Jeffrey Hart in the National Review lauded the novel, stating "in freer and more intelligent circles in Europe, the book is a sensation and Raspail is a prize-winner…his plot is both simple and brilliant". In 1983, Linda Chavez called the novel "a sickening book", describing it "racist, xenophobic and paranoid". The December 1994 cover story of The Atlantic Monthly focused on the themes of the novel, analyzing them in the context of international relations. (This was at about the same time that The Social Contract Press chose to bring it back into U.S. publication).
In 2002 Lionel Shriver described the novel as "both prescient and appalling," certainly "racist" but "written with tremendous verbal energy and passion." Shriver writes that the book "gives bilious voice to an emotion whose expression is increasingly taboo in the West, but that can grow only more virulent when suppressed: the fierce resentment felt by majority populations when that status seems threatened."
William F. Buckley, Jr. praised the book in 2004 as "a great novel" which raised questions on how to respond to massive illegal immigration. In 2005 the conservative Chilton Williamson praised the book as "one of the most uncompromising works of literary reaction in the 20th century." In 2001 the Southern Poverty Law Center described it as "widely revered by American white supremacists and is a sort of anti-immigration analog to The Turner Diaries," and as recently as October 2015 condemned the novel as "the favorite racist fantasy of the anti-immigrant movement in the US."
The book returned to the bestseller list in 2011.
- The March, a 1990 movie with a similar plot.
- L'Express: "Le camp des Saints, de Jean Raspail, un succès de librairie raciste?", 6 April 2011, retrieved 30 November 2012
- Huslin, Anita. "On Immigration, A Theorist Who's No Fence-Sitter". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- Paul Gray (1975-08-04). "Poor White Trash". Time. Archived from the original on August 15, 2007. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
- Jeffrey Hart, National Review, September 26, 1975.
- Crawford, James (1992). Language Loyalties: A Source Book on the Official English Controversy. University of Chicago Press. p. 174. ISBN 0226120163.
- Matthew Connelly and Paul Kennedy (December 1994). "Must It Be the Rest Against the West?". Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- John Tanton. "The Puppeteer Replies - The Social Contract Press". The Social Contract Press. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Lionel Shriver: "Population doomsday", New Statesman, 10 June 2002, retrieved 1 December 2012
- Buckley, Jr., William F. "No Irish Need Apply." National Review Online. July 23, 2004.
- Williamson, Chilton (2005). The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works That Impact Today's Conservative Thinkers. Citadel Press. p. 279. ISBN 0-8065-2691-2.
- Racist Book, Camp of the Saints, Gains in Popularity, Intelligence Report, March 21, 2001
- SPLCenter.org: Fear and Fantasy