1915 : Romain Rolland

1915 : Romain Rolland

“as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings”

Born

:

January 29, 1866

Place of birth

:

Clamecy, Nievre

Died

:

December 30, 1944

Place of death

:

Vezelay

Occupation

:

Novelist

Nationality

:

French

Notable award(s)

:

Nobel Prize in Literature 1915

Biography:

Born in Clamecy, Nievre, France, within a family of notaries, though their ancestors had been farmers as both remarkable people. Writing in his introspective interior Voyage (1942), was himself as a representative of the “ancient species”. These ancestors would participate in the truculent tone of the story and uploaded Breugnon Colas (1919). Accepted into the Ecole normale superieure in 1886, first studied philosophy, but his independendia spirit led him to abandon it in order not to bow to their dominant ideology. He graduated in History in 1889 and spent two years in Rome, where his encounter with Malwa von Meysenburg – who was a friend of Nietzsche and Wagner – and his discovery of Italian masterpieces were instrumental in the development of his thought. When he returned to France in 1895, received his PhD with his thesis “The origins of the modern operatic theater” and his doctoral dissertation “A History of Opera in Europe before Lully and Scarlatti.” Began as a professor of history at the Lycee Henri IV, then at the Lycee Louis le Grand and the Ecole francaise de Rome. Later became a professor of History of Music at the Sorbonne and professor of history at the Ecole Normale Superieure. Demanding, and shy young man, did not like teaching. It was not indifferent to the youth: Jean-Christophe, Olivier and his friends – the heroes of his novels – are young. But with young people, as with adults, Rolland had only distant relations. Especially wanted to be a writer. Sure you could live only dedicated to literature, resigned from the university in 1912. In 1915 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1922 and founded the magazine Europe. Romain Rolland was a militant pacifist. In 1924, his book on Gandhi contributed to his reputation back, and both met in 1931. He moved to the shores of Lac Leman, Switzerland to pursue writing. His life was interrupted by health problems, and for travel and art exhibitions. His trip to Moscow (1935), at the invitation of Maxim Gorky, was an opportunity to meet Stalin, and served as an unofficial ambassador of French artists in the Soviet Union. In 1937, she returned to live in Vezelay, which, in 1940, was occupied by the Germans. During the occupation, was isolated in a complete solitude. While working, in 1940, completed his memoirs. It was also devoted to giving the final touches to his musical research on the life of Ludwig van Beethoven. Shortly before his death, wrote Peguy (1944), which examines religion and socialism in the context of his memoirs. He died in Vezelay.

Works:

Selected works:

  • HISTOIRE DE L’OPERA EN EUROPE AVANT LULLY ET SCARLATTI, 1895

  • SAINT-LOUIS, 1987

  • AERT, 1898

  • LES LOUPS, 1898 – The Wolves (play) / The Hungry Wolves (translated by John Holmstrom) – TV drama 1959, dir. by Marcel Bluwal

  • LE TRIOMPHEDE LA RAISON, 1899

  • DANTON, 1900 (play) – Danton (tr. by Barrett H. Clark) – Danton (suom. Eino Kalima)

  • MILLET, 1902 – Millet (trans. by C. Blak)

  • LE QUATORZE JUILLET, 1902 (play) – The Fourteenth of July (tr. by Barrett H. Clark)

  • LES TEMPS VIENDRA, 1903

  • LE THEATRE DE PEUPLE, 1903 – The People’s Theatre (tr. by Barrett H. Clark)

  • VIE DE BEETHOVEN, 1903 – Beethoven (tr. by B. Constance Hull) – Beethoven (suomentanut Leevi Madetoja)

  • LA MONTESPAN, 1904 – The Monstespan: Drama in Three Acts (tr. by H.B. Dekay)

  • MICHEL-ANGE, 1905 – Michelangelo (translated by Frederick Street) / The Life of Michelangelo (tr. F. Lees) – Michelangelo (suomentanut V. Tarkiainen)

  • THEATRE DE LA REVOLUTION: LE QUATORZE JUILLET; DANTON; LES LOUPS, 1906

  • MUSICIENS D’AUTREFOIS, 1908 – Some Musicians of Former Days (tr. by Mary Blaiklock)

  • HAENDEL, 1910 – Handel (tr. by A. Eaglefield Hull)

  • VIE DE TOLSTOI, 1911 – Tolstoy (tr. by Bernard Miall)

  • JEAN-CHRISTOPHE, 10 vol., 1904-12 – Jean-Christophe (tr. by Gilbert Cannan) / John Christopher: a Novel (tr. by Gilbert Cannan) – Jean-Christophe (osat 1-4 ja 6-10 suom. Joel Lehtonen) – television series 1978, dir. by Francois Villiers, starring Klaus Maria Brandaue as Jean-Christopher, Bruno Devoldere, Maia Simon

  • LES TRAGEDIES DE LA FOI, 1913 – The Tragedies of Faith (plays)

  • AU-DESSUS DE LA MELEE, 1915 – Above the Battle (tr. by C.K. Ogden)

  • LE TRIOMPHE DE LA LIBERTE, 1917

  • MUSICIENS D’AUJOURD’HUI, 1917 – Musicians of To-Day (tr. by Mary Blaiklock)

  • EMPEDOCLE D’AGRIGENTE ET L’AGE DE LA HAINE, 1918

  • LILULI, 1919 – transl.

  • COLAS BREUGNON, 1919 – Colas Breugnon (trans. by K. Miller) – Mestari Breugnon: “ukko senkun porskuttaa” (suom. Matti Pyhala)

  • LES PRECURSEURS, 1919 – The Forerunners (tr. by Eden and Cedar Paul) – Edellakavijat (suom. Vaino Meltti)

  • VOYAGE MUSICAL AUX PAYS DU PASSE, 1919 – Musical Tour through the Land of the Past (tr. B. Miall)

  • PIERRE ET LUCE, 1920 – Pierre and Luce (tr. by Charles De Kay) – Kaksi rakastavaista (suom. Eino Voionmaa)

  • CLEREMBAULT, 1920 – Clerambault; the Story of an Independent Spirit during the War (tr. by Katherine Miller)

  • LA REVOLTE DES MACHINES; OU, LA PENSEE DECHAINEE, 1921 – The Revolt of the Machines; or, Invention Run Wild: A Motion Picture Fantasy

  • LES VAINCUS, 1922

  • L’AMEE-ENCHANTEE, 1922-33 (7 vols.) – Annette and Sylvie (translated by Ben Ray Redman); The Soul Enchated: Annette and Sylvie (tr. by B.R. Redman); Summer (by Eleanor Stimson & Van Wyck Brooks); A World in Birth; the Concluding Volume of The Soul Enchanted (tr. by Amalia De Alberti) – Lumottu sielu 1: Annette ja Sylvia (suomentanut Eino Voionmaa); Lumottu sielu 2: Kesa (suomentanut Eino Voionmaa); Lumottu sielu 3: Aiti ja poika (suom. Eino Palola)

  • MAHATMA GANDHI, 1924 – Mahatma Gandhi (translated by L.V. Ramaswami) / Mahatma Gandhi: The Man Who Became One with the Universal Being (tr. by Catherine D. Groth) – Mahatma Gandhi (suom.)

  • LE JEU DE L’AMOUR ET DE LA MORT, 1925 – The Game of Love and Death (tr. by Eleanor Stimson Brooks)

  • PAGUES FLEURIES, 1926 – Palm Sunday (tr. by Eugene Lohrke)

  • LES LEONIDES, 1928 – Les Leonides (tr. by Eugene Lohrke)

  • BEETHOVEN, 1928-45 (7 vols.) – Beethoven the Creator; the Great Creative Epochs: from the Eroica to the Appassionata (partial tr. by Ernest Newman)

  • ESSAI SUR LA MYSTIQUE ET L’ACTION DE L’INDE VIVANTE, 1929-30 (3 vols.) – Prophets of the New India ( translated by E.F. Malcolm-Smith)

  • GOETHE ET BEETHOVEN, 1930 – Goethe and Beethoven (tr. by G. A. Pfister and E. S. Kemp)

  • LA VIE DE RAMAKRISHNA, 1930 – The Life of Ramakrishna (translated by E.F. Malcolm-Smith)

  • LA MUSIQUE DANS K’HISTOIRE GENERALE, 1930

  • QUINZE AND DE COMBAT, 1919-1934 – I Will Not Rest (tr. by K. S. Shelvankar)

  • PAR LA REVOLUTION, LA PAIX, 1935

  • CAMPAGNOS DE ROUTE, 1936

  • LES PAGES IMMORTELLES DE ROUSSEAU, 1938 – The Living Thoughts of Rousseau (tr. J. Kernan)

  • VALMY, 1938

  • ROBESPIERRE, 1939

  • LE VOYAGE INTERIEUR, 1942 – The Journey Within (tr. by Elsie Pell)

  • PEGUY, 1945

  • LE SEUIL, 1946

  • DE JEAN-CHRISTOPHE A COLAS BREUGNON: PAGES DE JOURNAL, 1946

  • LETTRES DE ROMAIN ROLLAND UN COMBATTANT DE LA RESISTANCE, 1947

  • SOUVENIRS DE JEUNESSE, 1947

  • CHOIX DE LETTRES A MALWIDE VON MAYSENBUG, 1948 – Letters of Romain Rolland and Malwida von Meysenbug, 1890-1891 (translated by Thomas J. Wilson)

  • Essays on Music, 1948 (tr. D. Ewen)

  • CORRESPONDANCE ENTRE LOUIS GILLET ET ROMAIN ROLLAND, 1949

  • RICHARD STRAUSS ET ROMAIN ROLLAND, 1951 – Richard Strauss & Romain Rolland; Correspondence, Together with Fragments from the Diary of Romain Rolland and Other Essays (edited by Rollo Myers)

  • LE CLOITRE DE LA RUE D’ULM, 1952

  • CORRESPONDANCE ENTRE H.HESSE ET R.R., 1954

  • CHOIX DE LETTRES DE ROMAIN ROLLAND A SA MERE, 1954

  • CORRESPONDANCE ENTRE CHARLES PEGUY ET ROMAIN ROLLAND, 1955

  • RETOUR AU PALAIS FARNESE, 1956

  • MEMOIRES, 1956

  • ROMAIN ROLLAND-LUGNE-POE, 1957

  • DE LA DECADENCE DE LA PEINTURE ITALIENNE AUX XVI SIECLE, 1957

  • CHERE SOFIA, 1959-60 (2 vols.)

  • INDE: JOURNAL 1915-1943, 1960

  • RABINDRANATH TAGORE ET ROMAIN ROLLAND, 1961

  • CES JOURS LOINTAINS, 1962

  • DEUX HOMMES SE RENCONTRENT, 1964

  • ROMAIN ROLLAND ET MOUVEMENT FLORENTIN DE “LA VOCE”, 1966

  • LETTRES DE ROMAIN ROLLAND A MARIANNE CZEKE, 1966

  • UN BEAU VISAGE A TOUS SENS, 1967

  • SALUT ET FRATERNITE, 1969

  • GANDHI ET ROMAIN ROLLAND, 1969

  • JE COMMENCE A DEVENIR DANGEREUX, 1971

  • D’UNE RIVE A L’AUTRE, 1972 – Hermann Hesse & Romain Rolland: Correspondence, Diary Entries, and Reflections, 1915 to 1940 (translated from the French and German by M. G. Hesse)

  • POUR L’HONNEUR DE L’ESPIRIT, 1973

  • BON VOISINAGE, 1977

  • MONSIEUR LE COMTE, 1978

  • Selected Letters of Romain Rolland, 1990 (edited by Francis Dore and Marie-Laure Prevost)

Awards:

1915: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1915 was announced on November 9, 1916

The following account of the work of Romain Rolland is by Sven Soderman, Swedish Critic

Romain Rolland was born on January 29, 1866, in the district of Nievre. He studied literature, music, and philosophy, and in 1895 he published two doctoral theses: Les Origines du theatre lyrique moderne, an erudite and penetrating work which was awarded a prize by the French Academy, and a Latin thesis, Cur ars picturae apud Italos XVI saeculi deciderit, a study of the decline of Italian painting in the sixteenth century. After several tiresome years as a schoolmaster, he was appointed to the Ecole Normale as maitre de conferences and thereafter (1903) to the Sorbonne, where until 1910 he gave a remarkable course on the history of music. In addition to his duties at the university, he devoted himself to music criticism during these years and acquired a wide reputation not only in France but all over Europe when he published his articles and reviews in book form under the titles Musiciens d’autrefois (1908) [Some Musicians of Former Days] and Musiciens d’aujourd’hui (1908) [Musicians of Today]. They reveal him as a critic of great judgment, both fair and bold, without prejudices or allegiance to any one party, and as one always striving to reach through music the very sources of life. His biographies of Beethoven (1903) and Handel (1910), inspired as well as learned, are proof of his understanding of music. Besides these, he has written equally remarkable biographies of Francois Millet (1902), Michelangelo (1905-06), and Tolstoi (1911), in which he has stressed the heroic character of the lives and talents of these artists.

Rolland made his debut in pure literature in 1897 with a play in five acts, Saint-Louis, which he published together with Aert (1898) and Le Triomphe de la raison (1899), under the common title Les Tragedies de la foi (1909) [Tragedies of Faith]. In these plays he sought to set forth, under the mask of historial events, the miseries that souls faithful to their ideals meet in their struggle with the world. He also wrote Theatre de la revolution (1909), which includes Le 14 Juillet (1902), Danton (1900), Les Loups (1898) [The Wolves], and a pacifist drama about the war in the Transvaal, Le Temps viendra (1903) [The Time Will Come]. The plays about the Revolution were conceived during a period when Rolland dreamed of a dramatic reform. He wanted to create a new theatre, to free the art from the domination of a selfish clique, and to entrust it to the people. He had previously outlined his ideas in an essay called Le Theatre du peuple (1900-03) [The People’s Theatre]. He tried to make his own contribution to this new popular drama by describing the principal episodes of the French Revolution and by representing in a dramatic cycle the Iliad of the French nation. These dramas, which seek moral truth at the sacrifice of anecdotal color, reveal historical intuition, and their characters are fully alive. They are very interesting to read and deserve to be staged.

From 1904 to 1912 Rolland published his great novel Jean-Christophe, which is composed of a series of independent narratives: L’Aube, Le Matin, L’Adolescent, La Revolte, La Foire sur la place, Antoinette, Dans la maison, Les Amies, Le Buisson ardent, and La Nouvelle Journee [Dawn, Morning, Youth, Revolt, The Market Place, Antoinette, The House, Love and Friendship, The Burning Bush, The New Dawn]. In 1910 he resigned from his duties at the University; since then he has devoted himself entirely to writing, living most of the time in Rome and Switzerland. During the war, he wrote a series of articles in Swiss newspapers; these were subsequently published in a volume called Au-dessus de la melee (1915) [Above the Battle]. In this, he maintains that the future of mankind is superior to the interests of nations. War for him is barbarous violence, and over the bloody struggles of nations which seek power he turns our eyes toward the cause of humanity. Rolland’s recent works are a novel, Colas Breugnon (1918), a dramatic fantasy, Liluli (1919), and a study of Empedocles (1917).

Romain Rolland’s masterpiece, for which he has received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1915, is Jean-Christophe. This powerful work describes the development of a character in whom we can recognize ourselves. It shows how an artistic temperament, by raising itself step by step, emerges like a genius above the level of humanity; how a powerful nature which has the noblest and most urgent desire for truth, moral health, and artistic purity, with an exuberant love of life, is forced to overcome obstacles that rise up ceaselessly before it; how it attains victory and independence; and how this character and this intelligence are significant enough to concentrate in themselves a complete image of the world. This book does not aim solely at describing the life of the principal hero and his environment. It seeks also to describe the causes of the tragedy of a whole generation; it gives a sweeping picture of the secret labour that goes on in the hidden depths and by which nations, little by little, are enlightened; it covers all the domains of life and art; it contains everything essential that has been discussed or attempted in the intellectual world during the last decades; it achieves a new musical aesthetic; it contains sociological, political and ethnological, biological, literary, and artistic discussions and judgments, often of the highest interest. The artistic personality which is revealed in Jean-Christophe is one of rare resoluteness and strong moral structure. In this work Rolland has not simply followed a literary impulse; he does not write to please or to delight. He has been compelled to write by his thirst for truth, his need for morality, and his love of humanity. For him the purpose of the aesthetic life consists not merely in the creation of beauty; it is an act of humanism. Jean-Christophe is a profession of faith and an example; it is a combination of thought and poetry, of reality and symbol, of life and dream, which attracts us, excites us, reveals us to ourselves, and possesses a liberating power because it is the expression of a great moral force.

In addition to the Romain Rolland who is concerned about truth and altruism there is also the artist. He is a poet of great scope. Although he has assigned the novel only to second place in his work, his mastery of the genre is superb. The character study of Jean-Christophe is an inspired creation, astonishing in spontaneity, with individuality in every trait, every movement, every thought.

Around this central, monumental figure, we find a whole series of characters of great human interest. Rolland’s observation is precise and profound. He penetrates to the depths of the beings whom he describes; he studies their characters and paints their souls with incomparable psychological art. His portraits of women, especially, are masterpieces. His characters come from all walks of life and are astonishingly true to type – the bourgeois, the politician, the artist. Sometimes the descriptions are brief but powerful sketches full of drama and pathos; sometimes they are extended to form immense tableaux of manners that are striking because of their keenness of vision and their singular penetration. His innate sincerity prevents Rolland from using rhetorical devices. He says in an exact and natural manner what he has to say – and nothing more. But when his thought is inflamed, when his heart is filled with emotion-love, anger, enthusiasm, scorn, joy, or sadness – then a wind swells the sentence and gives to the text a beauty that, before Rolland, only the greatest masters of French prose have attained.

The author of Jean-Christophe is one of the most imposing literary figures of the contemporary era; he is a mighty spirit and an original poet. His masterpiece has taken its place in world literature among the most original, the boldest, and the healthiest works of our century.

Biographical note on Romain Rolland

The works of Romain Rolland (1866-1945) written after the First World War continued to reflect all his earlier interests. During the twenties he began another roman fleuve, L’Ame enchantee (7 vols., 1922-33) [The Soul Enchanted]. Music and the problem of the artist are the subject of his Beethoven: Les grandes epoques creatrices (1928) [Beethoven the Creator]. Rolland persisted in his quest for peace and was attracted by the non-violence movement of Ghandi, about whom he wrote a book (1924). His fascination with India and Buddhism led to the study Essai sur la mystique et l’action de L’Inde vivante (1929-30) [Prophets of the New India]. His political ideas were increasingly influenced by socialism, as is evident from his many essays. Other works of his later period are Les Precurseurs (1919) [The Forerunners], Clerambault: histoire d’une conscience libre pendant la guerre (1920) [Clerambault], Le Jeu de l’amour et de la mort (1925) [The Game of Love and Death], and Peguy (1944), the study of his boyhood friend.

Book(s):

Jean-Christophe Vol. I

Photo Gallery:

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