Contemporary French Civilization

"L'anglais tel qu'on le court": Antoine Blondin's "clichéd view of Englishness" in Tours de France: Chroniques intégrales de L'Équipe 1954-1982

Contemporary French Civilization (2014), 39, (1), 55–74.

Abstract

From 1954 to 1982, the right-wing French novelist Antoine Blondin wrote adaily chronicle for the three weeks of the Tour de France cycle race in thepages of the newspaper L’Équipe in which he was given the freedom tocover the event from a very different perspective and in a very differentstyle to that of the professional sports journalists and cycling experts of theday. The collected chronicles published in 2001 constitute a unique corpusand have a special place in the annals of both sports and media literature.A ten-man Great Britain team competed in the 1955 Tour – the first Britonssince 1937 – providing Blondin with a golden opportunity to exploitpopular national stereotypes and stock French perceptions of the English.By the time of Blondin’s last contribution to the paper in 1982, the Tour deFrance was no longer uncharted territory for Britons who have been unrepresentedon only three occasions since 1955. Against the backdrop of asporting rivalry between the “dearest of enemies,” this article examines references to British (and occasionally Irish) riders in Blondin’s chronicles ofthe period and reflects on the construction of identities inherent in suchrepresentations.

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Cooke, Ruadhán