Produced by Chuck Greif, University of Michigan Libraries
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
Produced by Chuck Greif, University of Michigan Libraries
THE MAN AND HIS WORK
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT
EDEN and CEDAR PAUL
Copyright, 1921, by
THOMAS SELTZER, Inc.
All rights reserved
PRINTED IN U. S. A.
Not merely do I describe the work of a great European. Above all do I pay tribute to a personality, that of one who for me and for many others has loomed as the most impressive moral phenomenon of our age. Modelled upon his own biographies of classical figures, endeavouring to portray the greatness of an artist while never losing sight of the man or forgetting his influence upon the world of moral endeavour, conceived in this spirit, my book is likewise inspired with a sense of personal gratitude, in that, amid these days forlorn, it has been vouchsafed to me to know the miracle of so radiant an existence.
of this uniqueness, I dedicate the book to those few who, in the hour of fiery trial, remained faithful to
AND TO OUR BELOVED HOME OF
|PART ONE: BIOGRAPHICAL|
|IV.||The Normal School||12|
|V.||A Message From Afar||18|
|VIII.||Years of Apprenticeship||32|
|IX.||Years of Struggle||37|
|X.||A Decade of Seclusion||43|
|XIII.||Rolland As the Embodiment of the European Spirit||52|
|PART TWO: EARLY WORK AS A DRAMATIST|
|I.||The Work and the Epoch||57|
|II.||The Will To Greatness||63|
|III.||The Creative Cycles||67|
|IV.||The Unknown Dramatic Cycle||71|
|V.||The Tragedies of Faith. Saint Louis, Aërt, 1895-1898||76|
|VI.||Saint Louis. 1894||80|
|VIII.||Attempt To Regenerate the French Stage||86|
|IX.||An Appeal to the People||90|
|XI.||The Creative Artist||98|
|XII.||The Drama of the Revolution, 1898-1902||100|
|XIII.||The Fourteenth of July, 1902||103|
|XV.||The Triumph of Reason, 1899||110|
|XVI.||The Wolves, 1898||113|
|XVII.||The Call Lost in the Void||117|
|XVIII.||A Day Will Come, 1902||119|
|PART THREE: THE HEROIC BIOGRAPHIES|
|II.||The Heroes of Suffering||137|
|VI.||The Unwritten Biographies||150|
|PART FOUR: JEAN CHRISTOPHE|
|III.||The Origin of the Work||162|
|IV.||The Work without a Formula||166|
|V.||Key to the Characters||172|
|VI.||A Heroic Symphony||177|
|VII.||The Enigma of Creative Work||181|
|XI.||Jean Christophe and his Fellow Men||203|
|XII.||Jean Christophe and the Nations||207|
|XIII.||The Picture of France||211|
|XIV.||The Picture of Germany||217|
|XV.||The Picture of Italy||221|
|PART FIVE: INTERMEZZO SCHERZO (COLAS BREUGNON)|
|II.||The Burgundian Brother||244|
|IV.||A Frustrate Message||252|
|PART SIX: THE CONSCIENCE OF EUROPE|
|I.||The Warden of the Inheritance||257|
|III.||The Place of Refuge||264|
|IV.||The Service of Man||268|
|V.||The Tribunal of the Spirit||271|
|VI.||The Controversy with Gerhardt Hauptmann||277|
|VII.||The Correspondence with Verhaeren||281|
|VIII.||The European Conscience||285|
|X.||Above the Battle||293|
|XI.||The Campaign against Hatred||297|
|XVIII.||The Forerunners and Empedocles||329|
|XXI.||The Last Appeal||348|
|XXII.||Declaration of the Independence of the Mind||351|
[Click on any image to view it enlarged. (note from the etext producer.)]
|Romain Rolland after a drawing by Granié (1909)||Frontispiece|
|Romain Rolland at the Normal School||12|
|Leo Tolstoi’s Letter||20|
|Rolland’s Transcript of Francesco Provenzale’s Aria from Lo Schiavo di sua Moglie||34|
|Rolland’s Transcript of a Melody by Paul Dupin, L’Oncle Gottfried||35|
|Romain Rolland at the Time of Writing Beethoven||142|
|Romain Rolland at the Time of Writing Jean Christophe||162|
|Romain Rolland at the Time of Writing Above the Battle||294|
|Original Manuscript of The Declaration of the Independence of the Mind||352|
The surge of the Heart’s energies would not break in a mist of foam, nor be subtilized into Spirit, did not the rock of Fate, from the beginning of days, stand ever silent in the way.
THE first fifty years of Romain Rolland’s life were passed in inconspicuous and almost solitary labors. Thenceforward, his name was to become a storm center of European discussion. Until shortly before the apocalyptic year, hardly an artist of our days worked in such complete retirement, or received so little recognition.
Since that year, no artist has been the subject of so much controversy. His fundamental ideas were not destined to make themselves generally known until there was a world in arms bent upon destroying them.
Envious fate works ever thus, interweaving the lives of the great with tragical threads. She tries her powers to the uttermost upon the strong, sending events to run counter to their plans, permeating their lives with strange allegories, imposing obstacles in their path—that they may be guided more unmistakably in the right course. Fate plays with them, plays a game with a sublime issue, for all experience is precious. Think of the greatest among our contemporaries; think of Wagner, Nietzsche, Dostoievsky, Tolstoi, Strindberg; in the case of each of them, destiny has superadded to the creations of the artist’s mind, the drama of personal experience.
Notably do these considerations apply to the life of Romain Rolland. The significance of his life’s work becomes plain only when it is contemplated as a whole. It was slowly produced, for it had to encounter great dangers; it was a gradual revelation, tardily consummated. The foundations of this splendid structure were deeply dug in the firm ground of knowledge, and were laid upon the hidden masonry of years spent in isolation. Thus tempered by the ordeal of a furnace seven times heated, his work has the essential imprint of humanity. Precisely owing to the strength of its foundations, to the solidity of its moral energy, was Rolland’s thought able to stand unshaken throughout the war storms that have been ravaging Europe. While other monuments to which we had looked up with veneration, cracking and crumbling, have been leveled with the quaking earth, the monument he had builded stands firm “above the battle,” above the medley of opinions, a pillar of strength towards which all free spirits can turn for consolation amid the tumult of the world.
ROMAIN ROLLAND was born on January 29, 1866, a year of strife, the year when Sadowa was fought. His native town was Clamecy, where another imaginative writer, Claude Tillier, author of Mon Oncle Benjamin, was likewise born. An ancient city, within the confines of old-time Burgundy, Clamecy is a quiet place, where life is easy and uneventful. The Rollands belong to a highly respected middle-class family. His father, who was a lawyer, was one of the notables of the town. His mother, a pious and serious-minded woman, devoted all her energies to the upbringing of her two children; Romain, a delicate boy, and his sister Madeleine, younger than he. As far as the environment of daily life was concerned, the atmosphere was calm and untroubled; but in the blood of the parents existed contrasts deriving from earlier days of French history, contrasts not yet fully reconciled. On the father’s side, Rolland’s ancestors were champions of the Convention, ardent partisans of the Revolution, and some of them sealed their faith with their blood. From his mother’s family he inherited the Jansenist spirit, the investigator’s temperament of Port-Royal. He was thus endowed by both parents with tendencies to fervent faith, but tendencies to faith in contradictory ideals. In France this cleavage between love for religion and passion for freedom, between faith and revolution, dates from centuries back. Its seeds were destined to blossom in the artist.
His first years of childhood were passed in the shadow of the defeat of 1870. In Antoinette, Rolland sketches the tranquil life of just such a provincial town as Clamecy. His home was an old house on the bank of a canal. Not from this narrow world were to spring the first delights of the boy who, despite his physical frailty, was so passionately sensitive to enjoyment. A mighty impulse from afar, from the unfathomable past, came to stir his pulses. Early did he discover music, the language of languages, the first great message of the soul. His mother taught him the piano. From its tones he learned to build for himself the infinite world of feeling, thus transcending the limits imposed by nationality. For while the pupil eagerly assimilated the easily understood music of French classical composers, German music at the same time enthralled his youthful soul. He has given an admirable description of the way in which this revelation came to him: “We had a number of old German music books. German? Did I know the meaning of the word? In our part of the world I believe no one had ever seen a German … I turned the leaves of the old books, spelling out the notes on the piano, … and these runnels, these streamlets of melody, which watered my heart, sank into the thirsty ground as the rain soaks into the earth. The bliss and the pain, the desires and the dreams, of Mozart and Beethoven, have become flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. I am them, and they are me…. How much do I owe them. When I was ill as a child, and death seemed near, a melody of Mozart would watch over my pillow like a lover…. Later, in crises of doubt and depression, the music of Beethoven would revive in me the sparks of eternal life…. Whenever my spirit is weary, whenever I am sick at heart, I turn to my piano and bathe in music.”
Thus early did the child enter into communion with the wordless speech of humanity; thus early had the all-embracing sympathy of the life of feeling enabled him to pass beyond the narrows of town and of province, of nation and of era. Music was his first prayer to the elemental forces of life; a prayer daily repeated in countless forms; so that now, half a century later, a week and even a day rarely elapses without his holding converse with Beethoven. The other saint of his childhood’s days, Shakespeare, likewise belonged to a foreign land. With his first loves, all unaware, the lad had already overstridden the confines of nationality. Amid the dusty lumber in a loft he discovered an edition of Shakespeare, which his grandfather (a student in Paris when Victor Hugo was a young man and Shakespeare mania was rife) had bought and forgotten. His childish interest was first awakened by a volume of faded engravings entitled Galerie des femmes de Shakespeare. His fancy was thrilled by the charming faces, by the magical names Perdita, Imogen, and Miranda. But soon, reading the plays, he became immersed in the maze of happenings and personalities. He would remain in the loft hour after hour, disturbed by nothing beyond the occasional trampling of the horses in the stable below or by the rattling of a chain on a passing barge. Forgetting everything and forgotten by all he sat in a great armchair with the beloved book, which like that of Prospero made all the spirits of the universe his servants. He was encircled by a throng of unseen auditors, by imaginary figures which formed a rampart between himself and the world of realities.
As ever happens, we see a great life opening with great dreams. His first enthusiasms were most powerfully aroused by Shakespeare and Beethoven. The youth inherited from the child, the man from the youth, this passionate admiration for greatness. One who has hearkened to such a call, cannot easily confine his energies within a narrow circle. The school in the petty provincial town had nothing more to teach this aspiring boy. The parents could not bring themselves to send their darling alone to the metropolis, so with heroic self-denial they decided to sacrifice their own peaceful existence. The father resigned his lucrative and independent position as notary, which made him a leading figure in Clamecy society, in order to become one of the numberless employees of a Parisian bank. The familiar home, the patriarchal life, were thrown aside that the Rollands might watch over their boy’s schooling and upgrowing in the great city. The whole family looked to Romain’s interest, thus teaching him early what others do not usually learn until full manhood—responsibility.