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Title: Romain Rolland - The Man and His Work
Author: Zweig, Stefan, 1881-1942
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Romain Rolland - The Man and His Work" ***

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[Illustration: Romain Rolland after a drawing by Granié (1909)]







Copyright, 1921, by

_All rights reserved_



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







I. INTRODUCTORY                                                        1

II. EARLY CHILDHOOD                                                    3

III. SCHOOL DAYS                                                       8

IV. THE NORMAL SCHOOL                                                 12

V. A MESSAGE FROM AFAR                                                18

VI. ROME                                                              23

VII. THE CONSECRATION                                                 29

VIII. YEARS OF APPRENTICESHIP                                         32

IX. YEARS OF STRUGGLE                                                 37

X. A DECADE OF SECLUSION                                              43

XI. A PORTRAIT                                                        45

XII. RENOWN                                                           48



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

VII. AËRT, 1898                                                       83


IX. AN APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE                                           90

X. THE PROGRAM                                                        94

XI. THE CREATIVE ARTIST                                               98

XII. THE DRAMA OF THE REVOLUTION, 1898-1902                          100

XIII. THE FOURTEENTH OF JULY, 1902                                   103

XIV. DANTON, 1900                                                    106

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

XIX. THE PLAYWRIGHT                                                  123


I. DE PROFUNDIS                                                      133

II. THE HEROES OF SUFFERING                                          137

III. BEETHOVEN                                                       140

IV. MICHELANGELO                                                     144

V. TOLSTOI                                                           147

VI. THE UNWRITTEN BIOGRAPHIES                                        150


I. SANCTUS CHRISTOPHORUS                                             157

II. RESURRECTION                                                     160

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

VIII. JEAN CHRISTOPHE                                                188

IX. OLIVIER                                                          195

X. GRAZIA                                                            200

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

XVI. THE JEWS                                                        224

XVII. THE GENERATIONS                                                229

XVIII. DEPARTURE                                                     235


I. TAKEN UNAWARES                                                    241

II. THE BURGUNDIAN BROTHER                                           244

III. GAULOISERIES                                                    249

IV. A FRUSTRATE MESSAGE                                              252


I. THE WARDEN OF THE INHERITANCE                                     257

II. FOREARMED                                                        260

III. THE PLACE OF REFUGE                                             264

IV. THE SERVICE OF MAN                                               268

V. THE TRIBUNAL OF THE SPIRIT                                        271


VII. THE CORRESPONDENCE WITH VERHAEREN                               281

VIII. THE EUROPEAN CONSCIENCE                                        285

IX. THE MANIFESTOES                                                  289

X. ABOVE THE BATTLE                                                  293

XI. THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HATRED                                      297

XII. OPPONENTS                                                       304

XIII. FRIENDS                                                        311

XIV. THE LETTERS                                                     317

XV. THE COUNSELOR                                                    320

XVI. THE SOLITARY                                                    324

XVII. THE DIARY                                                      327

XVIII. THE FORERUNNERS AND EMPEDOCLES                                329

XIX. LILULI                                                          335

XX. CLERAMBAULT                                                      339

XXI. THE LAST APPEAL                                                 348


XXIII. ENVOY                                                         355

BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                         357

INDEX                                                                371


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

Rolland's Mother                                                     324

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



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.



The boy was still too young to feel the magic of Paris. To his dreamy
nature, the clamorous and brutal materialism of the city seemed strange
and almost hostile. Far on into life he was to retain from these hours a
hidden dread, a hidden shrinking from the fatuity and soullessness of
great towns, an inexplicable feeling that there was a lack of truth and
genuineness in the life of the capital. His parents sent him to the
Lyceum of Louis the Great, a celebrated high school in the heart of
Paris. Many of the ablest and most distinguished sons of France, have
been among the boys who, humming like a swarm of bees, emerge daily at
noon from the great hive of knowledge. He was introduced to the items of
French classical education, that he might become "un bon perroquet
Cornélien." His vital experiences, however, lay outside the domain of
this logical poesy or poetical logic; his enthusiasms drew him, as
heretofore, towards a poesy that was really alive, and towards music.
Nevertheless, it was at school that he found his first companion.

By the caprice of chance, for this friend likewise fame was to come only
after twenty years of silence. Romain Rolland and his intimate Paul
Claudel (author of _Annonce faite à Marie_), the two greatest
imaginative writers in contemporary France, who crossed the threshold of
school together, were almost simultaneously, twenty years later, to
secure a European reputation. During the last quarter of a century, the
two have followed very different paths in faith and spirit, have
cultivated widely divergent ideals. Claudel's steps have been directed
towards the mystic cathedral of the Catholic past; Rolland has moved
through France and beyond, towards the ideal of a free Europe. At that
time, however, in their daily walks to and from school, they enjoyed
endless conversations, exchanging thoughts upon the books they had read,
and mutually inflaming one another's youthful ardors. The bright
particular star of their heaven was Richard Wagner, who at that date was
casting a marvelous spell over the mind of French youth. In Rolland's
case it was not simply Wagner the artist who exercised this influence,
but Wagner the universal poietic personality.

School days passed quickly and somewhat joylessly. Too sudden had been
the transition from the romanticist home to the harshly realist Paris.
To the sensitive lad, the city could only show its teeth, display its
indifference, manifest the fierceness of its rhythm. These qualities,
this Maelstrom aspect, aroused in his mind something approaching to
alarm. He yearned for sympathy, cordiality, soaring aspirations; now as
before, art was his savior, "glorious art, in so many gray hours." His
chief joys were the rare afternoons spent at popular Sunday concerts,
when the pulse of music came to thrill his heart--how charmingly is not
this described in _Antoinette_! Nor had Shakespeare lost power in any
degree, now that his figures, seen on the stage, were able to arouse
mingled dread and ecstasy. The boy gave his whole soul to the dramatist.
"He took possession of me like a conqueror; I threw myself to him like a
flower. At the same time, the spirit of music flowed over me as water
floods a plain; Beethoven and Berlioz even more than Wagner. I had to
pay for these joys. I was, as it were, intoxicated for a year or two,
much as the earth becomes supersaturated in time of flood. In the
entrance examination to the Normal School I failed twice, thanks to my
preoccupation with Shakespeare and with music." Subsequently, he
discovered a third master, a liberator of his faith. This was Spinoza,
whose acquaintance he made during an evening spent alone at school, and
whose gentle intellectual light was henceforward to illumine Rolland's
soul throughout life. The greatest of mankind have ever been his
examples and companions.

When the time came for him to leave school, a conflict arose between
inclination and duty. Rolland's most ardent wish was to become an artist
after the manner of Wagner, to be at once musician and poet, to write
heroic musical dramas. Already there were floating through his mind
certain musical conceptions which, as a national contrast to those of
Wagner, were to deal with the French cycle of legends. One of these,
that of St. Louis, he was in later years indeed to transfigure, not in
music, but in winged words. His parents, however, considered such
wishes premature. They demanded more practical endeavors, and
recommended the Polytechnic School. Ultimately a happy compromise was
found between duty and inclination. A decision was made in favor of the
study of the mental and moral sciences. In 1886, at a third trial,
Rolland brilliantly passed the entrance examination to the Normal
School. This institution, with its peculiar characteristics and the
special historic form of its social life, was to stamp a decisive
imprint upon his thought and his destiny.



Rolland's childhood was passed amid the rural landscapes of Burgundy.
His school life was spent in the roar of Paris. His student years
involved a still closer confinement in airless spaces, when he became a
boarder at the Normal School. To avoid all distraction, the pupils of
this institution are shut away from the world, kept remote from real
life, that they may understand historical life the better. Renan, in
_Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse_, has given a powerful description
of the isolation of budding theologians in the seminary. Embryo army
officers are segregated at St. Cyr. In like manner at the Normal School
a general staff for the intellectual world is trained in cloistral
seclusion. The "normaliens" are to be the teachers of the coming
generation. The spirit of tradition unites with stereotyped method, the
two breeding in-and-in with fruitful results; the ablest among the
scholars will become in turn teachers in the same institution. The
training is severe, demanding indefatigable diligence, for its goal is
to discipline the intellect. But since it aspires towards universality
of culture, the Normal School permits considerable freedom of
organization, and avoids the dangerous over-specialization
characteristic of Germany. Not by chance did the most universal spirits
of France emanate from the Normal School. We think of such men as Renan,
Jaurès, Michelet, Monod, and Rolland.

[Illustration: Romain Rolland at the Normal School]

Although during these years Rolland's chief interest was directed
towards philosophy, although he was a diligent student of the
pre-Socratic philosophers of ancient Greece, of the Cartesians, and of
Spinoza, nevertheless, during the second year of his course, he chose,
or was intelligently guided to choose, history and geography as his
principal subjects. The choice was a fortunate one, and was decisive for
the development of his artistic life. Here he first came to look upon
universal history as an eternal ebb and flow of epochs, wherein
yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow comprise but a single living entity. He
learned to take broad views. He acquired his pre-eminent capacity for
vitalizing history. On the other hand, he owes to this same strenuous
school of youth his power for contemplating the present from the
detachment of a higher cultural sphere. No other imaginative writer of
our time possesses anything like so solid a foundation in the form of
real and methodical knowledge in all domains. It may well be, moreover,
that his incomparable capacity for work was acquired during these years
of seclusion.

Here in the Prytaneum (Rolland's life is full of such mystical word
plays) the young man found a friend. He also was in the future to be one
of the leading spirits of France, one who, like Claudel and Rolland
himself, was not to attain widespread celebrity until the lapse of a
quarter of a century. We should err were we to consider it the outcome
of pure chance that the three greatest representatives of idealism, of
the new poetic faith in France, Paul Claudel, André Suarès, and Charles
Péguy, should in their formative years have been intimate friends of
Romain Rolland, and that after long years of obscurity they should
almost at the same hour have acquired extensive influence over the
French nation. In their mutual converse, in their mysterious and ardent
faith, were created the elements of a world which was not immediately to
become visible through the formless vapors of time. Though not one of
these friends had as yet a clear vision of his goal, and though their
respective energies were to lead them along widely divergent paths,
their mutual reactions strengthened the primary forces of passion and of
steadfast earnestness to become a sense of all-embracing world
community. They were inspired with an identical mission to devote their
lives, renouncing success and pecuniary reward, that by work and appeal
they might help to restore to their nation its lost faith. Each one of
these four comrades, Rolland, Suarès, Claudel, and Péguy, has from a
different intellectual standpoint brought this revival to his nation.

As in the case of Claudel at the Lyceum, so now with Suarès at the
Normal School, Rolland was drawn to his friend through the love which
they shared for music, and especially for the music of Wagner. A further
bond of union was the passion both had for Shakespeare. "This passion,"
Rolland has written, "was the first link in the long chain of our
friendship. Suarès was then, what he has again become to-day after
traversing the numerous phases of a rich and manifold nature, a man of
the Renaissance. He had the very soul, the stormy temperament, of that
epoch. With his long black hair, his pale face, and his burning eyes, he
looked like an Italian painted by Carpaccio or Ghirlandajo. As a school
exercise he penned an ode to Cesare Borgia. Shakespeare was his god, as
Shakespeare was mine; and we often fought side by side for Shakespeare
against our professors." But soon came a new passion which partially
replaced that for the great English dramatist. There ensued the
"Scythian invasion," an enthusiastic affection for Tolstoi, which was
likewise to be lifelong. These young idealists were repelled by the
trite naturalism of Zola and Maupassant. They were enthusiasts who
looked for life to be sustained at a level of heroic tension. They, like
Flaubert and Anatole France, could not rest content with a literature of
self gratification and amusement. Now, above these trivialities, was
revealed the figure of a messenger of God, of one prepared to devote his
life to the ideal. "Our sympathies went out to him. Our love for Tolstoi
was able to reconcile all our contradictions. Doubtless each one of us
loved him from different motives, for each one of us found himself in
the master. But for all of us alike he opened a gate into an infinite
universe; for all he was a revelation of life." As always since earliest
childhood, Rolland was wholly occupied in the search for ultimate
values, for the hero, for the universal artist.

During these years of hard work at the Normal School, Rolland devoured
book after book, writing after writing. His teachers, Brunetière, and
above all Gabriel Monod, already recognized his peculiar gift for
historical description. Rolland was especially enthralled by the branch
of knowledge which Jakob Burckhardt had in a sense invented not long
before, and to which he had given the name of "history of
civilization"--the spiritual picture of an entire era. As regards
special epochs, Rolland's interest was notably aroused by the wars of
religion, wherein the spiritual elements of faith were permeated with
the heroism of personal sacrifice. Thus early do the motifs of all his
creative work shape themselves! He drafted a whole series of studies,
and simultaneously planned a more ambitious work, a history of the
heroic epoch of Catherine de Medici. In the scientific field, too, our
student was boldly attacking ultimate problems, drinking in ideas
thirstily from all the streamlets and rivers of philosophy, natural
science, logic, music, and the history of art. But the burden of these
acquirements was no more able to crush the poet in him than the weight
of a tree is able to crush its roots. During stolen hours he made essays
in poetry and music, which, however, he has always kept hidden from the
world. In the year 1888, before leaving the Normal School to face the
experiences of actual life, he wrote _Credo quia verum_. This is a
remarkable document, a spiritual testament, a moral and philosophical
confession. It remains unpublished, but a friend of Rolland's youth
assures us that it contains the essential elements of his untrammeled
outlook on the world. Conceived in the Spinozist spirit, based not upon
"Cogito ergo sum" but upon "Cogito ergo est," it builds up the world,
and thereon establishes its god. For himself accountable to himself
alone, he is to be freed in future from the need for metaphysical
speculation. As if it were a sacred oath, duly sworn, he henceforward
bears this confession with him into the struggle; if he but remain true
to himself, he will be true to his vow. The foundations have been deeply
dug and firmly laid. It is time now to begin the superstructure.

Such were his activities during these years of study. But through them
there already looms a dream, the dream of a romance, the history of a
single-hearted artist who bruises himself against the rocks of life.
Here we have the larval stage of _Jean Christophe_, the first twilit
sketch of the work to come. But much weaving of destiny, many
encounters, and an abundance of ordeals will be requisite, ere the
multicolored and impressive imago will emerge from the obscurity of
these first intimations.



School days were over. The old problem concerning the choice of
profession came up anew for discussion. Although science had proved
enriching, although it had aroused enthusiasm, it had by no means
fulfilled the young artist's cherished dream. More than ever his
longings turned towards imaginative literature and towards music. His
most ardent ambition was still to join the ranks of those whose words
and melodies unlock men's souls; he aspired to become a creator, a
consoler. But life seemed to demand orderly forms, discipline instead of
freedom, an occupation instead of a mission. The young man, now
two-and-twenty years of age, stood undecided at the parting of the ways.

Then came a message from afar, a message from the beloved hand of Leo
Tolstoi. The whole generation honored the Russian as a leader, looked up
to him as the embodied symbol of truth. In this year was published
Tolstoi's booklet _What is to be Done?_, containing a fierce indictment
of art. Contemptuously he shattered all that was dearest to Rolland.
Beethoven, to whom the young Frenchman daily addressed a fervent prayer,
was termed a seducer to sensuality. Shakespeare was a poet of the
fourth rank, a wastrel. The whole of modern art was swept away like
chaff from the threshing-floor; the heart's holy of holies was cast into
outer darkness. This tract, which rang through Europe, could be
dismissed with a smile by those of an older generation; but for the
young men who revered Tolstoi as their one hope in a lying and cowardly
age, it stormed through their consciences like a hurricane. The bitter
necessity was forced upon them of choosing between Beethoven and the
holy one of their hearts. Writing of this hour, Rolland says: "The
goodness, the sincerity, the absolute straightforwardness of this man
made of him for me an infallible guide in the prevailing moral anarchy.
But at the same time, from childhood's days, I had passionately loved
art. Music, in especial, was my daily food; I do not exaggerate in
saying that to me music was as much a necessary of life as bread." Yet
this very music was stigmatized by Tolstoi, the beloved teacher, the
most human of men; was decried as "an enjoyment that leads men to
neglect duty." Tolstoi contemned the Ariel of the soul as a seducer to
sensuality. What was to be done? The young man's heart was racked. Was
he to follow the sage of Yasnaya Polyana, to cut away from his life all
will to art; or was he to follow the innermost call which would lead him
to transfuse the whole of his life with music and poesy? He must
perforce be unfaithful, either to the most venerated among artists, or
to art itself; either to the most beloved among men or to the most
beloved among ideas.

In this state of mental cleavage, the student now formed an amazing
resolve. Sitting down one day in his little attic, he wrote a letter to
be sent into the remote distances of Russia, a letter describing to
Tolstoi the doubts that perplexed his conscience. He wrote as those who
despair pray to God, with no hope for a miracle, no expectation of an
answer, but merely to satisfy the burning need for confession. Weeks
elapsed, and Rolland had long since forgotten his hour of impulse. But
one evening, returning to his room, he found upon the table a small
packet. It was Tolstoi's answer to the unknown correspondent,
thirty-eight pages written in French, an entire treatise. This letter of
October 14, 1887, subsequently published by Péguy as No. 4 of the third
series of "_Cahiers de la quinzaine_," began with the affectionate
words, "Cher Frère." First was announced the profound impression
produced upon the great man, to whose heart this cry for help had
struck. "I have received your first letter. It has touched me to the
heart. I have read it with tears in my eyes." Tolstoi went on to expound
his ideas upon art. That alone is of value, he said, which binds men
together; the only artist who counts is the artist who makes a sacrifice
for his convictions. The precondition of every true calling must be, not
love for art, but love for mankind. Those only who are filled with such
a love can hope that they will ever be able, as artists, to do anything
worth doing.

[Illustration: Leo Tolstoi's Letter]

These words exercised a decisive influence upon the future of Romain
Rolland. But the doctrine summarized above has been expounded by Tolstoi
often enough, and expounded more clearly. What especially affected
our novice was the proof of the sage's readiness to give human help. Far
more than by the words was Rolland moved by the kindly deed of Tolstoi.
This man of world-wide fame, responding to the appeal of a nameless and
unknown youth, a student in a back street of Paris, had promptly laid
aside his own labors, had devoted a whole day, or perhaps two days, to
the task of answering and consoling his unknown brother. For Rolland
this was a vital experience, a deep and creative experience. The
remembrance of his own need, the remembrance of the help then received
from a foreign thinker, taught him to regard every crisis of conscience
as something sacred, and to look upon the rendering of aid as the
artist's primary moral duty. From the day he opened Tolstoi's letter, he
himself became the great helper, the brotherly adviser. His whole work,
his human authority, found its beginnings here. Never since then,
however pressing the demands upon his time, has he failed to bear in
mind the help he received. Never has he refused to render help to any
unknown person appealing out of a genuinely troubled conscience. From
Tolstoi's letter sprang countless Rollands, bringing aid and counsel
throughout the years. Henceforward, poesy was to him a sacred trust, one
which he has fulfilled in the name of his master. Rarely has history
borne more splendid witness to the fact that in the moral sphere no less
than in the physical, force never runs to waste. The hour when Tolstoi
wrote to his unknown correspondent has been revived in a thousand
letters from Rolland to a thousand unknowns. An infinite quantity of
seed is to-day wafted through the world, seed that has sprung from this
single grain of kindness.



From every quarter, voices were calling: the French homeland, German
music, Tolstoi's exhortation, Shakespeare's ardent appeal, the will to
art, the need for earning a livelihood. While Rolland was still
hesitating, his decision had again to be postponed through the
intervention of chance, the eternal friend of artists.

Every year the Normal School provides traveling scholarships for some of
its best pupils. The term is two years. Archeologists are sent to
Greece, historians to Rome. Rolland had no strong desire for such a
mission; he was too eager to face the realities of life. But fate is apt
to stretch forth her hand to those who are coy. Two of his fellow
students had refused the Roman scholarship, and Rolland was chosen to
fill the vacancy almost against his will. To his inexperience, Rome
still seemed nothing more than dead past, a history in shreds and
patches, a dull record which he would have to piece together from
inscriptions and parchments. It was a school task; an imposition, not
life. Scanty were his expectations when he set forth on pilgrimage to
the eternal city.

The duty imposed on him was to arrange documents in the gloomy Farnese
Palace, to cull history from registers and books. For a brief space he
paid due tribute to this service, and in the archives of the Vatican he
compiled a memoir upon the nuncio Salviati and the sack of Rome. But ere
long his attention was concentrated upon the living alone. His mind was
flooded by the wonderfully clear light of the Campagna, which reduces
all things to a self-evident harmony, making life appear simple and
giving it the aspect of pure sensation. For many, the gentle grace of
the artist's promised land exercises an irresistible charm. The
memorials of the Renaissance issue to the wanderer a summons to
greatness. In Italy, more strongly than elsewhere, does it seem that art
is the meaning of human life, and that art must be man's heroic aim.
Throwing aside his theses, the young man of twenty, intoxicated with the
adventure of love and of life, wandered for months in blissful freedom
through the lesser cities of Italy and Sicily. Even Tolstoi was
forgotten, for in this region of sensuous presentation, in the dazzling
south, the voice from the Russian steppes, demanding renunciation, fell
upon deaf ears. Of a sudden, however, Shakespeare, friend and guide of
Rolland's childhood, resumed his sway. A cycle of the Shakespearean
dramas, presented by Ernesto Rossi, displayed to him the splendor of
elemental passion, and aroused an irresistible longing to transfigure,
like Shakespeare, history in poetic form. He was moving day by day among
the stone witnesses to the greatness of past centuries. He would recall
those centuries to life. The poet in him awakened. In cheerful
faithlessness to his mission, he penned a series of dramas, catching
them on the wing with that burning ecstacy which inspiration, coming
unawares, invariably arouses in the artist. Just as England is presented
in Shakespeare's historical plays, so was the whole Renaissance epoch to
be reflected in his own writings. Light of heart, in the intoxication of
composition he penned one play after another, without concerning himself
as to the earthly possibilities for staging them. Not one of these
romanticist dramas has, in fact, ever been performed. Not one of them is
to-day accessible to the public. The maturer critical sense of the
artist has made him hide them from the world. He has a fondness for the
faded manuscripts simply as memorials of the ardors of youth.

The most momentous experience of these years spent in Italy was the
formation of a new friendship. Rolland never sought people out. In
essence he is a solitary, one who loves best to live among his books.
Yet from the mystical and symbolical outlook it is characteristic of his
biography that each epoch of his youth brought him into contact with one
or other of the leading personalities of the day. In accordance with the
mysterious laws of attraction, he has been drawn ever and again into the
heroic sphere, has associated with the mighty ones of the earth.
Shakespeare, Mozart, and Beethoven were the stars of his childhood.
During school life, Suarès and Claudel became his intimates. As a
student, in an hour when he was needing the help of sages, he followed
Renan; Spinoza freed his mind in matters of religion; from afar came
the brotherly greeting of Tolstoi. In Rome, through a letter of
introduction from Monod, he made the acquaintance of Malwida von
Meysenbug, whose whole life had been a contemplation of the heroic past.
Wagner, Nietzsche, Mazzini, Herzen, and Kossuth were her perennial
intimates. For this free spirit, the barriers of nationality and
language did not exist. No revolution in art or politics could affright
her. "A human magnet," she exercised an irresistible appeal upon great
natures. When Rolland met her she was already an old woman, a lucid
intelligence, untroubled by disillusionment, still an idealist as in
youth. From the height of her seventy years, she looked down over the
past, serene and wise. A wealth of knowledge and experience streamed
from her mind to that of the learner. Rolland found in her the same
gentle illumination, the same sublime repose after passion, which had
endeared the Italian landscape to his mind. Just as from the monuments
and pictures of Italy he could reconstruct the figures of the
Renaissance heroes, so from Malwida's confidential talk could he
reconstruct the tragedy in the lives of the artists she had known. In
Rome he learned a just and loving appreciation for the genius of the
present. His new friend taught him what in truth he had long ere this
learned unawares from within, that there is a lofty level of thought and
sensation where nations and languages become as one in the universal
tongue of art. During a walk on the Janiculum, a vision came to him of
the work of European scope he was one day to write, the vision of _Jean

Wonderful was the friendship between the old German woman and the
Frenchman of twenty-three. Soon it became difficult for either of them
to say which was more indebted to the other. Romain owed so much to
Malwida, in that she had enabled him to form juster views of some of her
great contemporaries; while Malwida valued Romain, because in this
enthusiastic young artist she discerned new possibilities of greatness.
The same idealism animated both, tried and chastened in the
many-wintered woman, fiery and impetuous in the youth. Every day Rolland
came to visit his venerable friend in the Via della Polveriera, playing
to her on the piano the works of his favorite masters. She, in turn,
introduced him to Roman society. Gently guiding his restless nature, she
led him towards spiritual freedom. In his essay _To the Undying
Antigone_, Rolland tells us that to two women, his mother, a sincere
Christian, and Malwida von Meysenbug, a pure idealist, he owes his
awakening to the full significance of art and of life. Malwida, writing
in _Der Lebens Abend einer Idealistin_ a quarter of a century before
Rolland had attained celebrity, expressed her confident belief in his
coming fame. We cannot fail to be moved when we read to-day the
description of Rolland in youth: "My friendship with this young man was
a great pleasure to me in other respects besides that of music. For
those advanced in years, there can be no loftier gratification than to
rediscover in the young the same impulse towards idealism, the same
striving towards the highest aims, the same contempt for all that is
vulgar or trivial, the same courage in the struggle for freedom of
individuality.... For two years I enjoyed the intellectual companionship
of young Rolland.... Let me repeat, it was not from his musical talent
alone that my pleasure was derived, though here he was able to fill what
had long been a gap in my life. In other intellectual fields I found him
likewise congenial. He aspired to the fullest possible development of
his faculties; whilst I myself, in his stimulating presence, was able to
revive youthfulness of thought, to rediscover an intense interest in the
whole world of imaginative beauty. As far as poesy is concerned, I
gradually became aware of the greatness of my young friend's endowments,
to be finally convinced of the fact by the reading of one of his
dramatic poems." Speaking of this early work, she prophetically declared
that the writer's moral energy might well be expected to bring about a
regeneration of French imaginative literature. In a poem, finely
conceived but a trifle sentimental, she expressed her thankfulness for
the experience of these two years. Malwida had recognized Romain as her
European brother, just as Tolstoi had recognized a disciple. Twenty
years before the world had heard of Rolland, his life was moving on
heroic paths. Greatness cannot be hid. When any one is born to
greatness, the past and the present send him images and figures to serve
as exhortation and example. From every country and from every race of
Europe, voices rise to greet the man who is one day to speak for them



The two years in Italy, a time of free receptivity and creative
enjoyment, were over. A summons now came from Paris; the Normal School,
which Rolland had left as pupil, required his services as teacher. The
parting was a wrench, and Malwida von Meysenbug's farewell was designed
to convey a symbolical meaning. She invited her young friend to
accompany her to Bayreuth, the chief sphere of the activities of the man
who, with Tolstoi, had been the leading inspiration of Rolland during
early youth, the man whose image had been endowed with more vigorous
life by Malwida's memories of his personality. Rolland wandered on foot
across Umbria, to meet his friend in Venice. Together they visited the
palace in which Wagner had died, and thence journeyed northward to the
scene of his life's work. "My aim," writes Malwida in her characteristic
style, which seldom attains strong emotional force, but is none the less
moving, "was that Romain should have these sublime impressions to close
his years in Italy and the fecund epoch of youth. I likewise wished the
experience to be a consecration upon the threshold of manhood, with its
prospective labors and its inevitable struggles and disillusionments."

Olivier had entered the country of Jean Christophe! On the first morning
of their arrival, before introducing her friend at Wahnfried, Malwida
took him into the garden to see the master's grave. Rolland uncovered as
if in church, and the two stood for a while in silence meditating on the
hero, to one of them a friend, to the other a leader. In the evening
they went to hear Wagner's posthumous work _Parsifal_. This composition,
which, like the visit to Bayreuth, is strangely interconnected with the
genesis of _Jean Christophe_, is as it were a consecrational prelude to
Rolland's future. For life was now to call him from these great dreams.
Malwida gives a moving description of their good-by. "My friends had
kindly placed their box at my disposal. Once more I went to hear
_Parsifal_ with Rolland, who was about to return to France in order to
play an active part in the work of life. It was a matter of deep regret
to me that this gifted friend was not free to lift himself to 'higher
spheres,' that he could not ripen from youth to manhood while wholly
devoted to the unfolding of his artistic impulses. But I knew that none
the less he would work at the roaring loom of time, weaving the living
garment of divinity. The tears with which his eyes were filled at the
close of the opera made me feel once more that my faith in him would be
justified. Thus I bade him farewell with heartfelt thanks for the time
filled with poesy which his talents had bestowed on me. I dismissed him
with the blessing that age gives to youth entering upon life."

Although an epoch that had been rich for both was now closed, their
friendship was by no means over. For years to come, down to the end of
her life, Rolland wrote to Malwida once a week. These letters, which
were returned to him after her death, contain a biography of his early
manhood perhaps fuller than that which is available in the case of any
other notable personality. Inestimable was the value of what he had
learned from this encounter. He had now acquired an extensive knowledge
of reality and an unlimited sense of human continuity. Whereas he had
gone to Rome to study the art of the dead past, he had found the living
Germany, and could enjoy the companionship of her undying heroes. The
triad of poesy, music, and science, harmonizes unconsciously with that
other triad, France, Germany, and Italy. Once and for all, Rolland had
acquired the European spirit. Before he had written a line of _Jean
Christophe_, that great epic was already living in his blood.



The form of Rolland's career, no less than the substance of his inner
life, was decisively fashioned by these two years in Italy. As happened
in Goethe's case, so in that with which we are now concerned, the
conflict of the will was harmonized amid the sublime clarity of the
southern landscape. Rolland had gone to Rome with his mind still
undecided. By genius, he was a musician; by inclination, a poet; by
necessity, a historian. Little by little, a magical union had been
effected between music and poesy. In his first dramas, the phrasing is
permeated with lyrical melody. Simultaneously, behind the winged words,
his historic sense had built up a mighty scene out of the rich hues of
the past. After the success of his thesis _Les origines du théâtre
lyrique moderns_ (_Histoire de l'opéra en Europe avant Lully et
Scarlatti_), he became professor of the history of music, first at the
Normal School, and from 1903 onwards at the Sorbonne. The aim he set
before himself was to display "_l'éternelle floraison_," the sempiternal
blossoming, of music as an endless series through the ages, while each
age none the less puts forth its own characteristic shoots. Discovering
for the first time what was to be henceforward his favorite theme, he
showed how, in this apparently abstract sphere, the nations cultivate
their individual characteristics, while never ceasing to develop
unawares the higher unity wherein time and national differences are
unknown. A great power for understanding others, in association with the
faculty for writing so as to be readily understood, constitutes the
essence of his activities. Here, moreover, in the element with which he
was most familiar, his emotional force was singularly effective. More
than any teacher before him did he make the science he had to convey, a
living thing. Dealing with the invisible entity of music, he showed that
the greatness of mankind is never concentrated in a single age, nor
exclusively allotted to a single nation, but is transmitted from age to
age and from nation to nation. Thus like a torch does it pass from one
master to another, a torch that will never be extinguished while human
beings continue to draw the breath of inspiration. There are no
contradictions, there is no cleavage, in art. "History must take for its
object the living unity of the human spirit. Consequently, history is
compelled to maintain the tie between all the thoughts of the human

Many of those who heard Rolland's lectures at the School of Social
Science and at the Sorbonne, still speak of them to-day with
undiminished gratitude. Only in a formal sense was history the topic of
these discourses, and science was merely their foundation. It is true
that Rolland, side by side with his universal reputation, has a
reputation among specialists in musical research for having discovered
the manuscript of Luigi Rossi's _Orfeo_, and for having been the first
to do justice to the forgotten Francesco Provenzale (the teacher of
Alessandro Scarlatti who founded the Neapolitan school). But their broad
humanist scope, their encyclopedic outlook, makes his lectures on _The
Beginnings of Opera_ frescoes of whilom civilizations. In interludes of
speaking, he would give music voice, playing on the piano long-lost
airs, so that in the very Paris where they first blossomed three hundred
years before, their silvery tones were now reawakened from dust and
parchment. At this date, while Rolland was still quite young, he began
to exercise upon his fellows that clarifying, guiding, inspiring, and
formative influence, which since then, increasingly reinforced by the
power of his imaginative writings and spread by these into ever widening
circles, has become immeasurable in its extent. Nevertheless, throughout
its expansion, this force has remained true to its primary aim. From
first to last, Rolland's leading thought has been to display, amid all
the forms of man's past and man's present, the things that are really
great in human personality, and the unity of all single-hearted

[Illustration: Rolland's transcript of Francesco Provenzale's Aria from
_Lo Schiaro di sua Moglie_]

[Illustration: Rolland's transcript of a melody by Paul Dupin, _L'Oncle

It is obvious that Romain Rolland's passion for music could not be
restricted within the confines of history. He could never become a
specialist. The limitations involved in the career of such experts are
utterly uncongenial to his synthetic temperament. For him the past is
but a preparation for the present; what has been merely provides the
possibility for increasing comprehension of the future. Thus side by
side with his learned theses and with his volumes _Musiciens
d'autrefois_, _Haendel_, _Histoire de l'Opéra_, etc., we have his
_Musiciens d'aujourd'hui_, a collection of essays which were first
published in the "_Revue de Paris_" and the "_Revue de l'art
dramatique_," essays penned by Rolland as champion of the modern and the
unknown. This collection contains the first portrait of Hugo Wolf ever
published in France, together with striking presentations of Richard
Strauss and Debussy. He was never weary of looking for new creative
forces in European music; he went to the Strasburg musical festival to
hear Gustav Mahler, and visited Bonn to attend the Beethoven festival.
Nothing seemed alien to his eager pursuit of knowledge; his sense of
justice was all-embracing. From Catalonia to Scandinavia he listened for
every new wave in the ocean of music. He was no less at home with the
spirit of the present than with the spirit of the past.

During these years of activity as teacher, he learned much from life.
New circles were opened to him in the Paris which hitherto he had known
little of except from the window of his lonely study. His position at
the university and his marriage brought the man who had hitherto
associated only with a few intimates and with distant heroes, into
contact with intellectual and social life. In the house of his
father-in-law, the distinguished philologist Michel Bréal, he became
acquainted with the leading lights of the Sorbonne. Elsewhere, in the
drawing-rooms, he moved among financiers, bourgeois, officials, persons
drawn from all strata of city life, including the cosmopolitans who are
always to be found in Paris. Involuntarily, during these years, Rolland
the romanticist became an observer. His idealism, without forfeiting
intensity, gained critical strength. The experiences garnered (it might
be better to say, the disillusionments sustained) in these contacts, all
this medley of commonplace life, were to form the basis of his
subsequent descriptions of the Parisian world in _La foire sur la place_
and _Dans la maison_. Occasional journeys to Germany, Switzerland,
Austria, and his beloved Italy, gave him opportunities for comparison,
and provided fresh knowledge. More and more, the growing horizon of
modern culture came to occupy his thoughts, thus displacing the science
of history. The wanderer returned from Europe had discovered his home,
had discovered Paris; the historian had found the most important epoch
for living men and women--the present.



Rolland was now a man of thirty, with his energies at their prime. He
was inspired with a restrained passion for activity. In all times and
scenes, alike in the past and in the present, his inspiration discerned
greatness. The impulse now grew strong within him to give his imaginings

But this will to greatness encountered a season of petty things. At the
date when Rolland began his life work, the mighty figures of French
literature had already passed from the stage: Victor Hugo, with his
indefatigable summons to idealism; Flaubert, the heroic worker; Renan,
the sage. The stars of the neighboring heaven, Richard Wagner and
Friedrich Nietzsche, had set or become obscured. Extant art, even the
serious art of a Zola or a Maupassant, was devoted to the commonplace;
it created only in the image of a corrupt and enfeebled generation.
Political life had become paltry and supine. Philosophy was stereotyped
and abstract. There was no longer any common bond to unite the elements
of the nation, for its faith had been shattered for decades to come by
the defeat of 1870. Rolland aspired to bold ventures, but his world
would have none of them. He was a fighter, but his world desired an
easy life. He wanted fellowship, but all that his world wanted was

Suddenly a storm burst over the country. France was stirred to the
depths. The entire nation became engrossed in an intellectual and moral
problem. Rolland, a bold swimmer, was one of the first to leap into the
turbulent flood. Betwixt night and morning, the Dreyfus affair rent
France in twain. There were no abstentionists; there was no calm
contemplation. The finest among Frenchmen were the hottest partisans.
For two years the country was severed as by a knife blade into two
camps, that of those whose verdict was "guilty," and that of those whose
verdict was "not guilty." In _Jean Christophe_ and in Péguy's
reminiscences, we learn how the section cut pitilessly athwart families,
dividing brother from brother, father from son, friend from friend.
To-day we find it difficult to understand how this accusation of
espionage brought against an artillery captain could involve all France
in a crisis. The passions aroused transcended the immediate cause to
invade the whole sphere of mental life. Every Frenchman was faced by a
problem of conscience, was compelled to make a decision between
fatherland and justice. Thus with explosive energy the moral forces
were, for all right-thinking minds, dragged into the vortex. Rolland was
among the few who from the very outset insisted that Dreyfus was
innocent The apparent hopelessness of these early endeavors to secure
justice were for Rolland a spur to conscience. Whereas Péguy was
enthralled by the mystical power of the problem, which would he hoped
bring about a moral purification of his country, and while in
conjunction with Bernard Lazare he wrote propagandist pamphlets
calculated to add fuel to the flames, Rolland's energies were devoted to
the consideration of the immanent problem of justice. Under the
pseudonym Saint-Just he published a dramatic parable, _Les loups_,
wherein he lifted the problem from the realm of time into the realm of
the eternal. This was played to an enthusiastic audience, among which
were Zola, Scheurer-Kestner, and Picquart. The more definitely political
the trial became, the more evident was it that the freemasons, the
anti-clericalists, and the socialists were using the affair to secure
their own ends; and the more the question of material success replaced
the question of the ideal, the more did Rolland withdraw from active
participation. His enthusiasm is devoted only to spiritual matters, to
problems, to lost causes. In the Dreyfus affair, just as later, it was
his glory to have been one of the first to take up arms, and to have
been a solitary champion in a historic moment.

Simultaneously, Rolland was working shoulder to shoulder with Péguy, and
with Suarès the friend of his adolescence, in a new campaign. This
differed from the championship of Dreyfus in that it was not stormy and
clamorous, but involved a tranquil heroism which made it resemble rather
the way of the cross. The friends were painfully aware of the corruption
and triviality of the literature then dominant in Paris. To attempt a
direct attack would have been fruitless, for this hydra had the whole
periodical press at its service. Nowhere was it possible to inflict a
mortal blow upon the many-headed and thousand-armed entity. They
resolved, therefore, to work against it, not with its own means, not by
imitating its own noisy activities, but by the force of moral example,
by quiet sacrifice and invincible patience. For fifteen years they wrote
and edited the "_Cahiers de la quinzaine_." Not a centime was spent on
advertising it, and it was rarely to be found on sale at any of the
usual agents. It was read by students and by a few men of letters, by a
small circle growing imperceptibly. Throughout an entire decade, all
Rolland's works appeared in its pages, the whole of _Jean Christophe_,
_Beethoven_, _Michel-Ange_, and the plays. Though during this epoch the
author's financial position was far from easy, he received nothing for
any of these writings--the case is perhaps unexampled in modern
literature. To fortify their idealism, to set an example to others,
these heroic figures renounced the chance of publicity, circulation, and
remuneration for their writings; they renounced the holy trinity of the
literary faith. And when at length, through Rolland's, Péguy's, and
Suarès' tardily achieved fame, the "Cahiers" had come into its own, its
publication was discontinued. But it remains an imperishable monument of
French idealism and artistic comradeship.

A third time Rolland's intellectual ardor led him to try his mettle in
the field of action. A third time, for a space, did he enter into a
comradeship that he might fashion life out of life. A group of young men
had come to recognize the futility and harmfulness of the French
boulevard drama, whose central topic is the eternal recurrence of
adultery issuing from the tedium of bourgeois existence. They determined
upon an attempt to restore the drama to the people, to the proletariat,
and thus to furnish it with new energies. Impetuously Rolland threw
himself into the scheme, writing essays, manifestoes, an entire book.
Above all, he contributed a series of plays conceived in the spirit of
the French revolution and composed for its glorification. Jaurès
delivered a speech introducing _Danton_ to the French workers. The other
plays were likewise staged. But the daily press, obviously scenting a
hostile force, did its utmost to chill the enthusiasm. The other
participators soon lost their zeal, so that ere long the fine impetus of
the young group was spent. Rolland was left alone, richer in experience
and disillusionment, but not poorer in faith.

Although by sentiment Rolland is attached to all great movements, the
inner man has ever remained free from ties. He gives his energies to
help others' efforts, but never follows blindly in others' footsteps.
Whatever creative work he has attempted in common with others has been a
disappointment; the fellowship has been clouded by the universality of
human frailty. The Dreyfus case was subordinated to political scheming;
the People's Theater was wrecked by jealousies; Rolland's plays, written
for the workers, were staged but for a night; his wedded life came to a
sudden and disastrous end--but nothing could shatter his idealism. When
contemporary existence could not be controlled by the forces of the
spirit, he still retained his faith in the spirit. In hours of
disillusionment he called up the images of the great ones of the earth,
who conquered mourning by action, who conquered life by art. He left the
theater, he renounced the professorial chair, he retired from the world.
Since life repudiated his single-hearted endeavors he would transfigure
life in gracious pictures. His disillusionments had but been further
experience. During the ensuing ten years of solitude he wrote _Jean
Christophe_, a work which in the ethical sense is more truly real than
reality itself, a work which embodies the living faith of his



For a brief season the Parisian public was familiar with Romain
Rolland's name as that of a musical expert and a promising dramatist.
Thereafter for years he disappeared from view, for the capital of France
excels all others in its faculty for merciless forgetfulness. He was
never spoken of even in literary circles, although poets and other men
of letters might be expected to be the best judges of the values in
which they deal. If the curious reader should care to turn over the
reviews and anthologies of the period, to examine the histories of
literature, he will find not a word of the man who had already written a
dozen plays, had composed wonderful biographies, and had published six
volumes of _Jean Christophe_. The "_Cahiers de la quinzaine_" were at
once the birthplace and the tomb of his writings. He was a stranger in
the city at the very time when he was describing its mental life with a
picturesqueness and comprehensiveness which has never been equaled. At
forty years of age, he had won neither fame nor pecuniary reward; he
seemed to possess no influence; he was not a living force. At the
opening of the twentieth century, like Charles Louis Philippe, like
Verhaeren, like Claudel, and like Suarès, in truth the strongest writers
of the time, Rolland remained unrecognized when he was at the zenith of
his creative powers. In his own person he experienced the fate which he
has depicted in such moving terms, the tragedy of French idealism.

A period of seclusion is, however, needful as a preliminary to labors of
such concentration. Force must develop in solitude before it can capture
the world. Only a man prepared to ignore the public, only a man animated
with heroic indifference to success, could venture upon the forlorn hope
of planning a romance in ten volumes; a French romance which, in an
epoch of exacerbated nationalism, was to have a German for its hero. In
such detachment alone could this universality of knowledge shape itself
into a literary creation. Nowhere but amid tranquillity undisturbed by
the noise of the crowd could a work of such vast scope be brought to

For a decade Rolland seemed to have vanished from the French literary
world. Mystery enveloped him, the mystery of toil. Through all these
long years his cloistered labors represented the hidden stage of the
chrysalis, from which the imago is to issue in winged glory. It was a
period of much suffering, a period of silence, a period characterized by
knowledge of the world--the knowledge of a man whom the world did not
yet know.



Two tiny little rooms, attic rooms in the heart of Paris, on the fifth
story, reached by a winding wooden stair. From below comes the muffled
roar, as of a distant storm, rising from the Boulevard Montparnasse.
Often a glass shakes on the table as a heavy motor omnibus thunders by.
The windows command a view across less lofty houses into an old convent
garden. In springtime the perfume of flowers is wafted through the open
window. No neighbors on this story; no service. Nothing beyond the help
of the concierge, an old woman who protects the hermit from untimely

The workroom is full of books. They climb up the walls, and are piled in
heaps on the floor; they spread like creepers over the window seat, over
the chairs and the table. Interspersed are manuscripts. The walls are
adorned with a few engravings. We see photographs of friends, and a bust
of Beethoven. The deal table stands near the window; two chairs, a small
stove. Nothing costly in the narrow cell; nothing which could tempt to
repose; nothing to encourage sociability. A student's den; a little
prison of labor.

Amid the books sits the gentle monk of this cell, soberly clad like a
clergyman. He is slim, tall, delicate looking; his complexion is sallow,
like that of one who is rarely in the open. His face is lined,
suggesting that here is a worker who spends few hours in sleep. His
whole aspect is somewhat fragile--the sharply-cut profile which no
photograph seems to reproduce perfectly; the small hands, his hair
silvering already behind the lofty brow; his moustache falling softly
like a shadow over the thin lips. Everything about him is gentle: his
voice in its rare utterances; his figure which, even in repose, shows
the traces of his sedentary life; his gestures, which are always
restrained; his slow gait. His whole personality radiates gentleness.
The casual observer might derive the impression that the man is
debilitated or extremely fatigued, were it not for the way in which the
eyes flash ever and again from beneath the slightly reddened eyelids, to
relapse always into their customary expression of kindliness. The eyes
have a blue tint as of deep waters of exceptional purity. That is why no
photograph can convey a just impression of one in whose eyes the whole
force of his soul seems to be concentrated. The face is inspired with
life by the glance, just as the small and frail body radiates the
mysterious energy of work.

This work, the unceasing labor of a spirit imprisoned in a body,
imprisoned within narrow walls during all these years, who can measure
it? The written books are but a fraction of it. The ardor of our recluse
is all-embracing, reaching forth to include the cultures of every
tongue, the history, philosophy, poesy, and music of every nation. He is
in touch with all endeavors. He receives sketches, letters, and reviews
concerning everything. He is one who thinks as he writes, speaking to
himself and to others while his pen moves over the paper. With his
small, upright handwriting in which all the letters are clearly and
powerfully formed, he permanently fixes the thoughts that pass through
his mind, whether spontaneously arising or coming from without; he
records the airs of past and recent times, noting them down in
manuscript books; he makes extracts from newspapers, drafts plans for
future work; his thriftily collected hoard of these autographic
intellectual goods is enormous. The flame of his labor burns
unceasingly. Rarely does he take more than five hours' sleep; seldom
does he go for a stroll in the adjoining Luxembourg; infrequently does a
friend climb the five nights of winding stair for an hour's quiet talk;
even such journeys as he undertakes are mostly for purposes of research.
Repose signifies for him a change of occupation; to write letters
instead of books, to read philosophy instead of poetry. His solitude is
an active communing with the world. His free hours are his only holiday,
stolen from the long days when he sits in the twilight at the piano,
holding converse with the great masters of music, drawing melodies from
other worlds into this confined space which is itself a world of the
creative spirit.



We are in the year 1910. A motor is tearing along the Champs Elysées,
outrunning the belated warnings of its own hooter. There is a cry, and a
man who was incautiously crossing the street lies beneath the wheels. He
is borne away wounded and with broken limbs, to be nursed back to life.

Nothing can better exemplify the slenderness, as yet, of Romain
Rolland's fame, than the reflection how little his death at this
juncture would have signified to the literary world. There would have
been a paragraph or two in the newspapers informing the public that the
sometime professor of musical history at the Sorbonne had succumbed
after being run over by a motor. A few, perhaps, would have remembered
that fifteen years earlier this man Rolland had written promising
dramas, and books on musical topics. Among the innumerable inhabitants
of Paris, scarce a handful would have known anything of the deceased
author. Thus ignored was Romain Rolland two years before he obtained a
European reputation; thus nameless was he when he had finished most of
the works which were to make him a leader of our generation--the dozen
or so dramas, the biographies of the heroes, and the first eight volumes
of _Jean Christophe_.

A wonderful thing is fame, wonderful its eternal multiplicity. Every
reputation has peculiar characteristics, independent of the man to whom
it attaches, and yet appertaining to him as his destiny. Fame may be
wise and it may be foolish; it may be deserved and it may be undeserved.
On the one hand it may be easily attained and brief, flashing
transiently like a meteor; on the other hand it may be tardy, slow in
blossoming, following reluctantly in the footsteps of the works.
Sometimes fame is malicious, ghoulish, arriving too late, and battening
upon corpses.

Strange is the relationship between Rolland and fame. From early youth
he was allured by its magic; but charmed by the thought of the only
reputation that counts, the reputation that is based upon moral strength
and ethical authority, he proudly and steadfastly renounced the ordinary
amenities of cliquism and conventional intercourse. He knew the dangers
and temptations of power; he knew that fussy activity could grasp
nothing but a cold shadow, and was impotent to seize the radiant light.
Never, therefore, did he take any deliberate step towards fame, never
did he reach out his hand to fame, near to him as fame had been more
than once in his life. Indeed, he deliberately repelled the oncoming
footsteps by the publication of his scathing _La foire sur la place_,
through which he permanently forfeited the favor of the Parisian press.
What he writes of Jean Christophe applies perfectly to himself: "Le
succès n'était pas son but; son but était la foi." [Not success, but
faith was his goal.]

Fame loved Rolland, who loved fame from afar, unobtrusively. "It were
pity," fame seemed to say, "to disturb this man's work. The seeds must
lie for a while in the darkness, enduring patiently, until the time
comes for germination." Reputation and the work were growing in two
different worlds, awaiting contact. A small community of admirers had
formed after the publication of _Beethoven_. They followed Jean
Christophe in his pilgrimage. The faithful of the "_Cahiers de la
quinzaine_" won new friends. Without any help from the press, through
the unseen influence of responsive sympathies, the circulation of his
works grew. Translations were published. Paul Seippel, the distinguished
Swiss author, penned a comprehensive biography. Rolland had found many
devoted admirers before the newspapers had begun to print his name. The
crowning of his completed work by the Academy was nothing more than the
sound of a trumpet summoning the armies of his admirers to a review. All
at once accounts of Rolland broke upon the world like a flood, shortly
before he had attained his fiftieth year. In 1912 he was still unknown;
in 1914 he had a wide reputation. With a cry of astonishment, a
generation recognized its leader, and Europe became aware of the first
product of the new universal European spirit.

There is a mystical significance in Romain Rolland's rise to fame, just
as in every event of his life. Fame came late to this man whom fame had
passed by during the bitter years of mental distress and material need.
Nevertheless it came at the right hour, since it came before the war.
Rolland's renown put a sword into his hand. At the decisive moment he
had power and a voice to speak for Europe. He stood on a pedestal, so
that he was visible above the medley. In truth fame was granted at a
fitting time, when through suffering and knowledge Rolland had grown
ripe for his highest function, to assume his European responsibility.
Reputation, and the power that reputation gives, came at a moment when
the world of the courageous needed a man who should proclaim against the
world itself the world's eternal message of brotherhood.



Thus does Rolland's life pass from obscurity into the light of day.
Progress is slow, but the impulsion comes from powerful energies. The
movement towards the goal is not always obvious, and yet his life is
associated as is none other with the disastrously impending destiny of
Europe. Regarded from the outlook of fulfillment, we discern that all
the ostensibly counteracting influences, the years of inconspicuous and
apparently vain struggle, have been necessary; we see that every
incident has been symbolic. The career develops like a work of art,
building itself up in a wise ordination of will and chance. We should
take too mean a view of destiny, were we to think it the outcome of pure
sport that this man hitherto unknown should become a moral force in the
world during the very years when, as never before, there was need for
one who would champion the things of the spirit.

The year 1914 marks the close of Romain Rolland's private life.
Henceforth his career belongs to the world; his biography becomes part
of history; his personal experiences can no longer be detached from his
public activities. The solitary has been forced out of his workroom to
accomplish his task in the world. The man whose existence has been so
retired, must now live with doors and windows open. His every essay, his
every letter, is a manifesto. His life from now onward shapes itself
like a heroic drama. From the hour when his most cherished ideal, the
unity of Europe, seemed bent on its own destruction, he emerged from his
retirement to become a vital element of his time, an impersonal force, a
chapter in the history of the European spirit. Just as little as
Tolstoi's life can be detached from his propagandist activities, just so
little is there justification in this case for an attempt to distinguish
between the man and his influence. Since 1914, Romain Rolland has been
one with his ideal and one with the struggle for its realization. No
longer is he author, poet, or artist; no longer does he belong to
himself. He is the voice of Europe in the season of its most poignant
agony. He has become the conscience of the world.



     Son but n'était pas le succès; son but était la foi.

     JEAN CHRISTOPHE, "_La Révolte_."



Romain Rolland's work cannot be understood without an understanding of
the epoch in which that work came into being. For here we have a passion
that springs from the weariness of an entire country, a faith that
springs from the disillusionment of a humiliated nation. The shadow of
1870 was cast across the youth of the French author. The significance
and greatness of his work taken as a whole depend upon the way in which
it constitutes a spiritual bridge between one great war and the next. It
arises from a blood-stained earth and a storm-tossed horizon on one
side, reaching across on the other to the new struggle and the new

It originates in gloom. A land defeated in war is like a man who has
lost his god. Divine ecstasy is suddenly replaced by dull exhaustion; a
fire that blazed in millions is extinguished, so that nothing but ash
and cinder remain. There is a sudden collapse of all values. Enthusiasm
has become meaningless; death is purposeless; the deeds, which but
yesterday were deemed heroic, are now looked upon as follies; faith is a
fraud; belief in oneself, a pitiful illusion. The impulse to fellowship
fades; every one fights for his own hand, evades responsibility that he
may throw it upon his neighbor, thinks only of profit, utility, and
personal advantage. Lofty aspirations are killed by an infinite
weariness. Nothing is so utterly destructive to the moral energy of the
masses as a defeat; nothing else degrades and weakens to the same extent
the whole spiritual poise of a nation.

Such was the condition of France after 1870; the country was mentally
tired; it had become a land without a leader. The best among its
imaginative writers could give no help. They staggered for a while, as
if stunned by the bludgeoning of the disaster. Then, as the first
effects passed off, they reëntered their old paths which led them into a
purely literary field, remote and ever remoter from the destinies of
their nation. It is not within the power of men already mature to make
headway against a national catastrophe. Zola, Flaubert, Anatole France,
and Maupassant, needed all their strength to keep themselves erect on
their own feet. They could give no support to their nation. Their
experiences had made them skeptical; they no longer possessed sufficient
faith to give a new faith to the French people. But the younger writers,
those who had no personal memories of the disaster, those who had not
witnessed the actual struggle and had merely grown up amid the spiritual
corpses left upon the battlefield, those who looked upon the ravaged and
tormented soul of France, could not succumb to the influences of this
weariness. The young cannot live without faith, cannot breathe in the
moral stagnation of a materialistic world. For them, life and creation
mean the lighting up of faith, that mystically burning faith which
glows unquenchably in every new generation, glows even among the tombs
of the generation which has passed away. To the newcomers, the defeat is
no more than one of the primary factors of their experience, the most
urgent of the problems their art must take into account. They feel that
they are naught unless they prove able to restore this France, torn and
bleeding after the struggle. It is their mission to provide a new faith
for this skeptically resigned people. Such is the task for their robust
energies, such the goal of their aspiration. Not by chance do we find
that among the best in defeated nations a new idealism invariably
springs to life; that the poets of such peoples have but one aim, to
bring solace to their nation that the sense of defeat may be assuaged.

How can a vanquished nation be solaced? How can the sting of defeat be
soothed? The writer must be competent to divert his readers' thoughts
from the present; he must fashion a dialectic of defeat which shall
replace despair by hope. These young authors endeavored to bring help in
two different ways. Some pointed towards the future, saying: "Cherish
hatred; last time we were beaten, next time we shall conquer." This was
the argument of the nationalists, and there is significance in the fact
that it was predominantly voiced by the sometime companions of Rolland,
by Maurice Barrès, Paul Claudel, and Péguy. For thirty years, with the
hammers of verse and prose, they fashioned the wounded pride of the
French nation that it might become a weapon to strike the hated foe to
the heart. For thirty years they talked of nothing but yesterday's
defeat and to-morrow's triumph. Ever afresh did they tear open the old
wound. Again and again, when the young were inclining towards
reconciliation, did these writers inflame their minds anew with
exhortations in the heroic vein. From hand to hand they passed the
unquenchable torch of revenge, ready and eager to fling it into Europe's
powder barrel.

The other type of idealism, that of Rolland, less clamant and long
ignored, looked in a very different direction for solace, turning its
gaze not towards the immediate future but towards eternity. It did not
promise a new victory, but showed that false values had been used in
estimating defeat. For writers of this school, for the pupils of
Tolstoi, force is no argument for the spirit, the externals of success
provide no criterion of value for the soul. In their view, the
individual does not conquer when the generals of his nation march to
victory through a hundred provinces; the individual is not vanquished
when the army loses a thousand pieces of artillery. The individual gains
the victory, only when he is free from illusion, and when he has no part
in any wrong committed by his nation. In their isolation, those who hold
such views have continually endeavored to induce France, not indeed to
forget her defeat, but to make of that defeat a source of moral
greatness, to recognize the worth of the spiritual seed which has
germinated on the blood-drenched battlefields. Of such a character, in
_Jean Christophe_, are the words of Olivier, the spokesman of all young
Frenchmen of this way of thinking. Speaking to his German friend, he
says: "Fortunate the defeat, blessed the disaster! Not for us to disavow
it, for we are its children.... It is you, my dear Christopher, who have
refashioned us.... The defeat, little as you may have wished it, has
done us more good than evil. You have rekindled the torch of our
idealism, have given a fresh impetus to our science, and have reanimated
our faith.... We owe to you the reawakening of our racial conscience....
Picture the young Frenchmen who were born in houses of mourning under
the shadow of defeat; who were nourished on gloomy thoughts; who were
trained to be the instruments of a bloody, inevitable, and perhaps
useless revenge. Such was the lesson impressed upon their minds from
their earliest years: they were taught that there is no justice in this
world; that might crushes right. A revelation of this character will
either degrade a child's soul for ever, or will permanently uplift it."
And Rolland continues: "Defeat refashions the elite of a nation,
segregating the single-minded and the strong, and making them more
single-minded and stronger than before; but the others are hastened by
defeat down the path leading to destruction. Thus are the masses of the
people ... separated from the elite, leaving these free to continue
their forward march."

For Rolland this elite, reconciling France with the world, will in days
to come fulfil the mission of his nation. In ultimate analysis, his
thirty years' work may be regarded as one continuous attempt to prevent
a new war--to hinder the revival of the horrible cleavage between
victory and defeat. His aim has been, not to teach a new national pride,
but to inculcate a new heroism of self-conquest, a new faith in justice.

Thus from the same source, from the darkness of defeat, there have
flowed two different streams of idealism. In speech and writing, an
invisible struggle has been waged for the soul of the new generation.
The facts of history turned the scale in favor of Maurice Barrès. The
year 1914 marked the defeat of the ideas of Romain Rolland. Thus defeat
was not merely an experience imposed on him in youth, for defeat has
likewise been the tragic substance of his years of mature manhood. But
it has always been his peculiar talent to create out of defeat the
strongest of his works, to draw from resignation new ardors, to derive
from disillusionment a passionate faith. He has ever been the poet of
the vanquished, the consoler of the despairing, the dauntless guide
towards that world where suffering is transmuted into positive values
and where misfortune becomes a source of strength. That which was born
out of a tragical time, the experience of a nation under the heel of
destiny, Rolland has made available for all times and all nations.



Rolland realized his mission early in his career. The hero of one of his
first writings, the Girondist Hugot in _Le triomphe de la raison_,
discloses the author's own ardent faith when he declares: "Our first
duty is to be great, and to defend greatness on earth."

This will to greatness lies hidden at the heart of all personal
greatness. What distinguishes Romain Rolland from others, what
distinguishes the beginner of those days and the fighter of the thirty
years that have since elapsed, is that in art he never creates anything
isolated, anything with a purely literary or casual scope. Invariably
his efforts are directed towards the loftiest moral aims; he aspires
towards eternal forms; strives to fashion the monumental. His goal is to
produce a fresco, to paint a comprehensive picture, to achieve an epic
completeness. He does not choose his literary colleagues as models, but
takes as examples the heroes of the ages. He tears his gaze away from
Paris, from the movement of contemporary life, which he regards as
trivial. Tolstoi, the only modern who seems to him poietic, as the great
men of an earlier day were poietic, is his teacher and master. Despite
his humility, he cannot but feel that his own creative impulse makes him
more closely akin to Shakespeare's historical plays, to Tolstoi's _War
and Peace_, to Goethe's universality, to Balzac's wealth of imagination,
to Wagner's promethean art, than he is akin to the activities of his
contemporaries, whose energies are concentrated upon material success.
He studies his exemplars' lives, to draw courage from their courage; he
examines their works, in order that, using their measure, he may lift
his own achievements above the commonplace and the relative. His zeal
for the absolute is almost a religion. Without venturing to compare
himself with them, he thinks always of the incomparably great, of the
meteors that have fallen out of eternity into our own day. He dreams of
creating a Sistine of symphonies, dramas like Shakespeare's histories,
an epic like _War and Peace_; not of writing a new _Madame Bovary_ or
tales like those of Maupassant. The timeless is his true world; it is
the star towards which his creative will modestly and yet passionately
aspires. Among latter-day Frenchmen none but Victor Hugo and Balzac have
had this glorious fervor for the monumental; among the Germans none has
had it since Richard Wagner; among contemporary Englishmen, none perhaps
but Thomas Hardy.

Neither talent nor diligence suffices unaided to inspire such an urge
towards the transcendent. A moral force must be the lever to shake a
spiritual world to its foundations. The moral force which Rolland
possesses is a courage unexampled in the history of modern literature.
The quality that first made his attitude on the war manifest to the
world, the heroism which led him to take his stand alone against the
sentiments of an entire epoch, had, to the discerning, already been made
apparent in the writings of the inconspicuous beginner a quarter of a
century earlier. A man of an easy-going and conciliatory nature is not
suddenly transformed into a hero. Courage, like every other power of the
soul, must be steeled and tempered by many trials. Among all those of
his generation, Rolland had long been signalized as the boldest by his
preoccupation with mighty designs. Not merely did he dream, like
ambitious schoolboys, of Iliads and pentalogies; he actually created
them in the fevered world of to-day, working in isolation, with the
dauntless spirit of past centuries. Not one of his plays had been
staged, not a publisher had accepted any of his books, when he began a
dramatic cycle as comprehensive as Shakespeare's histories. He had as
yet no public, no name, when he began his colossal romance, _Jean
Christophe_. He embroiled himself with the theaters, when in his
manifesto _Le théâtre du peuple_ he censured the triteness and
commercialism of the contemporary drama. He likewise embroiled himself
with the critics, when, in _La foire sur la place_, he pilloried the
cheapjackery of Parisian journalism and French dilettantism with a
severity which had been unknown westward of the Rhine since the
publication of Balzac's _Les illusions perdues_. This young man whose
financial position was precarious, who had no powerful associates, who
had found no favor with newspaper editors, publishers, or theatrical
managers, proposed to remold the spirit of his generation, simply by his
own will and the power of his own deeds. Instead of aiming at a
neighboring goal, he always worked for a distant future, worked with
that religious faith in greatness which was displayed by the medieval
architects--men who planned cathedrals for the honor of God, recking
little whether they themselves would survive to see the completion of
their designs. This courage, which draws its strength from the religious
elements of his nature, is his sole helper. The watchword of his life
may be said to have been the phrase of William the Silent, prefixed by
Rolland as motto to _Aërt_: "I have no need of approval to give me hope;
nor of success, to brace me to perseverance."



The will to greatness involuntarily finds expression in characteristic
forms. Rarely does Rolland attempt to deal with any isolated topic, and
he never concerns himself about a mere episode in feeling or in history.
His creative imagination is attracted solely by elemental phenomena, by
the great "courants de foi," whereby with mystical energy a single idea
is suddenly carried into the minds of millions of individuals; whereby a
country, an epoch, a generation, will become kindled like a firebrand,
and will shed light over the environing darkness. He lights his own
poetic flame at the great beacons of mankind, be they individuals of
genius or inspired epochs, Beethoven or the Renaissance, Tolstoi or the
Revolution, Michelangelo or the Crusades. Yet for the artistic control
of such phenomena, widely ranging, deeply rooted in the cosmos,
overshadowing entire eras, more is requisite than the raw ambition and
fitful enthusiasm of an adolescent. If a mental state of this nature is
to fashion anything that shall endure, it must do so in boldly conceived
forms. The cultural history of inspired and heroic periods, cannot be
limned in fugitive sketches; careful grounding is indispensable. Above
all does this apply to monumental architecture. Here we must have a
spacious site for the display of the structures, and terraces from which
a general view can be secured.

That is why, in all his works, Rolland needs so much room. He desires to
be just to every epoch as to every individual. He never wishes to
display a chance section, but would fain exhibit the entire cycle of
happenings. He would fain depict, not episodes of the French revolution,
but the Revolution as a whole; not the history of Jean Christophe
Krafft, the individual modern musician, but the history of contemporary
Europe. He aims at presenting, not only the central force of an era, but
likewise the manifold counterforces; not the action alone, but the
reaction as well. For Rolland, breadth of scope is a moral necessity
rather than an artistic. Since he would be just in his enthusiasm, since
in the parliament of his work he would give every idea its spokesman, he
is compelled to write many-voiced choruses. That he may exhibit the
Revolution in all its aspects, its rise, its troubles, its political
activities, its decline, and its fall, he plans a cycle of ten dramas.
The Renaissance needs a treatment hardly less extensive. _Jean
Christophe_ must have three thousand pages. To Rolland, the intermediate
form, the variety, seems no less important than the generic type. He is
aware of the danger of dealing exclusively with types. What would _Jean
Christophe_ be worth to us, if with the figure of the hero there were
merely contrasted that of Olivier as a typical Frenchman; if we did not
find subsidiary figures, good and evil, grouped in numberless
variations around the symbolic dominants. If we are to secure a
genuinely objective view, many witnesses must be summoned; if we are to
form a just judgment, the whole wealth of facts must be taken into
consideration. It is this ethical demand for justice to the small no
less than to the great which makes spacious forms essential to Rolland.
This is why his creative artistry demands an all-embracing outlook, a
cyclic method of presentation. Each individual work in these cycles,
however circumscribed it may appear at the first glance, is no more than
a segment, whose full significance becomes apparent only when we grasp
its relationship to the focal thought, to justice as the moral center of
gravity, as a point whence all ideas, words, and actions appear
equidistant from the center of universal humanity. The circle, the
cycle, which unrestingly environs all its wealth of content, wherein
discords are harmoniously resolved--to Rolland, ever the musician, this
symbol of sensory justice is the favorite and wellnigh exclusive form.

The work of Romain Rolland during the last thirty years comprises five
such creative cycles. Too extended in their scope, they have not all
been completed. The first, a dramatic cycle, which in the spirit of
Shakespeare was to represent the Renaissance as an integral unit much as
Gobineau desired to represent it, remained a fragment. Even the
individual dramas have been cast aside by Rolland as inadequate. The
_Tragédies de la foi_ form the second cycle; the _Théâtre de la
révolution_ forms the third. Both are unfinished, but the fragments are
of imperishable value. The fourth cycle, the _Vie des hommes illustres_,
a cycle of biographies planned to form as it were a frieze round the
temple of the invisible God, is likewise incomplete. The ten volumes of
_Jean Christophe_ alone succeed in rounding off the full circle of a
generation, uniting grandeur and justice in the foreshadowed concord.

Above these five creative cycles there looms another and later cycle,
recognizable as yet only in its beginning and its end, its origination
and its recurrence. It will express the harmonious connection of a
manifold existence with a lofty and universal life-cycle in Goethe's
sense, a cycle wherein life and poesy, word and writing, character and
action, themselves become works of art. But this cycle still glows in
the process of fashioning. We feel its vital heat radiating into our
mortal world.



The young man of twenty-two, just liberated from the walls of the
Parisian seminary, fired with the genius of music and with that of
Shakespeare's enthralling plays, had in Italy his first experience of
the world as a sphere of freedom. He had learned history from documents
and syllabuses. Now history looked at him with living eyes out of
statues and figures; the Italian cities, the centuries, seemed to move
as if on a stage under his impassioned gaze. Give them but speech, these
sublime memories, and history would become poesy, the past would grow
into a peopled tragedy. During his first hours in the south he was in a
sublime intoxication. Not as historian but as poet did he first see Rome
and Florence.

"Here," he said to himself in youthful fervor, "here is the greatness
for which I have yearned. Here, at least, it used to be, in the days of
the Renaissance, when these cathedrals grew heavenward amid the storms
of battle, and when Michelangelo and Raphael were adorning the walls of
the Vatican, what time the popes were no less mighty in spirit than the
masters of art--for in that epoch, after centuries of interment with the
antique statues, the heroic spirit of ancient Greece had been revived
in a new Europe." His imagination conjured up the superhuman figures of
that earlier day; and of a sudden, Shakespeare, the friend of his first
youth, filled his mind once more. Simultaneously, as I have already
recounted, witnessing a number of performances by Ernesto Rossi, he came
to realize his own dramatic talent. Not now, as of old, in the Clamecy
loft, was he chiefly allured by the gentle feminine figures. The
strongest appeal, to his early manhood, was exercised by the fierceness
of the more powerful characters, by the penetrating truth of a knowledge
of mankind, by the stormy tumult of the soul. In France, Shakespeare is
hardly known at all by stage presentation, and but very little in prose
translation. Rolland, however, now attained as intimate an
acquaintanceship with Shakespeare as had been possessed a hundred years
earlier, almost at the same age, by Goethe when he conceived his
_Oration on Shakespeare_. This new inspiration showed itself in a
vigorous creative impulse. Rolland penned a series of dramas dealing
with the great figures of the past, working with the fervor of the
beginner, and with that sense of newly acquired mastery which was felt
by the Germans of the Sturm und Drang era.

These plays remained unpublished, at first owing to the disfavor of
circumstances, but subsequently because the author's ripening critical
faculty made him withhold them from the world. The first, entitled
_Orsino_, was written at Rome in 1890. Next, in the halcyon clime of
Sicily, he composed _Empedocles_, uninfluenced by Hölderlin's ambitious
draft, of which Rolland heard first from Malwida von Meysenbug. In the
same year, 1891, he wrote _Gli Baglioni_. His return to Paris did not
interrupt this outpouring, for in 1892 he wrote two plays, _Caligula_,
and _Niobé_. From his wedding journey to the beloved Italy in 1893 he
returned with a new Renaissance drama, _Le siège de Mantoue_. This is
the only one of the early plays which the author acknowledges to-day,
though by an unfortunate mischance the manuscript has been lost. At
length turning his attention to French history, he wrote _Saint Louis_
(1893), the first of his _Tragédies de la foi_. Next came _Jeanne de
Piennes_ (1894), which remains unpublished.... _Aërt_ (1895), the second
of the _Tragédies de la foi_, was the first of Rolland's plays to be
staged. There now (1896-1902) followed the four dramas of the _Théâtre
de la révolution_. In 1900 he wrote _La Montespan_ and _Les trois

Thus before the era of the more important works there were composed no
less than twelve dramas, equaling in bulk the entire dramatic output of
Schiller, Kleist, or Hebbel. The first eight of these were never either
printed or staged. Except for the appreciation by his confidant Malwida
von Meysenbug in _Der Lebens Abend einer Idealistin_ (a connoisseur's
tribute to their artistic merits), not a word has ever been said about

With a single exception. One of the plays was read on a classical
occasion by one of the greatest French actors of the day, but the
reminiscence is a painful one. Gabriel Monod, who from being Rolland's
teacher had become his friend, noting Malwida von Meysenbug's
enthusiasm, gave three of Rolland's pieces to Mounet-Sully, who was
delighted with them. The actor submitted them to the Comédie Française,
and in the reading committee he fought desperately on behalf of the
unknown, whose dramatic talent was more obvious to him, the comedian,
than it was to the men of letters. _Orsino_ and _Gli Baglioni_ were
ruthlessly rejected, but _Niobé_ was read to the committee. This was a
momentous incident in Rolland's life; for the first time, fame seemed
close at hand. Mounet-Sully read the play. Rolland was present. The
reading took two hours, and for a further two minutes the young author's
fate hung in the balance. Not yet, however, was celebrity to come. The
drama was refused, to relapse into oblivion. It was not even accorded
the lesser grace of print; and of the dozen or so dramatic works which
the dauntless author penned during the next decade, not one found its
way on to the boards of the national theater.

We know no more than the names of these early works, and are unable to
judge their worth. But when we study the later plays we may deduce the
conclusion that in the earlier ones a premature flame, raging too hotly,
burned itself out. If the dramas which first appeared in the press charm
us by their maturity and concentration, they depend for these qualities
upon the fate which left their predecessors unknown. Their calm is built
upon the passion of those which were sacrificed unborn; they owe their
orderly structure to the heroic zeal of their martyred brethren. All
true creation grows out of the dark humus of rejected creations. Of none
is it more true than of Romain Rolland that his work blossoms upon the
soil of renunciation.



_Saint Louis. Aërt. 1895-1898_

Twenty years after their first composition, republishing the forgotten
dramas of his youth under the title _Les tragédies de la foi_ (1913),
Rolland alluded in the preface to the tragical melancholy of the epoch
in which they were composed. "At that time," he writes, "we were much
further from our goal, and far more isolated." The elder brothers of
Jean Christophe and Olivier, "less robust though not less fervent in the
faith," had found it harder to defend their beliefs, to maintain their
idealism at its lofty level, than did the youth of the new day; living
in a stronger France, a freer Europe. Twenty years earlier, the shadow
of defeat still lay athwart the land. These heroes of the French spirit
had been compelled, even within themselves, to fight the evil genius of
the race, to combat doubts as to the high destinies of their nation, to
struggle against the lassitude of the vanquished. Then was to be heard
the cry of a petty era lamenting its vanished greatness; it aroused no
echo from the stage or from the people; it wasted itself in the
unresponsive skies--and yet it was the expression of an undying faith
in life.

Closely akin to this ardor is the faith voiced by Rolland's dramatic
cycle, though the plays deal with such different epochs, and are so
diverse in the range of their ideas. He wishes to depict the "courants
de foi," the mysterious streams of faith, at a time when a flame of
spiritual enthusiasm is spreading through an entire nation, when an idea
is flashing from mind to mind, involving unnumbered thousands in the
storm of an illusion; when the calm of the soul is suddenly ruffled by
heroic tumult; when the word, the faith, the ideal, though ever
invisible and unattainable, transfuses the inert world and lifts it
towards the stars. It matters nothing in ultimate analysis what idea
fires the souls of men; whether the idea be that of Saint Louis for the
holy sepulcher and Christ's realm, or that of Aërt for the fatherland,
or that of the Girondists for freedom. The ostensible goal is a minor
matter; the essence of such movements is the wonder-working faith; it is
this which assembles a people for crusades into the east, which summons
thousands to death for the nation, which makes leaders throw themselves
willingly under the guillotine. "Toute la vie est dans l'essor," the
reality of life is found in its impetus, as Verhaeren says; that alone
is beautiful which is created in the enthusiasm of faith. We are not to
infer that these early heroes, born out of due time, must have succumbed
to discouragement since they failed to reach their goal; one and all
they had to bow their souls to the influences of a petty time. That is
why Saint Louis died without seeing Jerusalem; why Aërt, fleeing from
bondage, found only the eternal freedom of death; why the Girondists
were trampled beneath the heels of the mob. These men had the true
faith, that faith which does not demand realization in this world. In
widely separated centuries, and against different storms of time, they
were the banner bearers of the same ideal, whether they carried the
cross or held the sword, whether they wore the cap of liberty or the
visored helm. They were animated with the same enthusiasm for the
unseen; they had the same enemy, call it cowardice, call it poverty of
spirit, call it the supineness of a weary age. When destiny refused them
the externals of greatness, they created greatness in their own souls.
Amid unheroic environments they displayed the perennial heroism of the
undaunted will; the triumph of the spirit which, when animated with
faith, can prove victorious over time.

The significance, the lofty aim, of these early plays, was their
intention to recall to the minds of contemporaries the memory of
forgotten brothers in the faith, to arouse for the service of the spirit
and not for the ends of brute force that idealism which ever burgeons
from the imperishable seed of youth. Already we discern the entire moral
purport of Rolland's later work, the endeavor to change the world by the
force of inspiration. "Tout est bien qui exalte la vie." Everything
which exalts life is good. This is Rolland's confession of faith, as it
is that of his own Olivier. Ardor alone can create vital realities.
There is no defeat over which the will cannot triumph; there is no
sorrow above which a free spirit cannot soar. Who wills the
unattainable, is stronger than destiny; even his destruction in this
mortal world is none the less a mastery of fate. The tragedy of his
heroism kindles fresh enthusiasm, which seizes the standard as it slips
from his grasp, to raise it anew and bear it onward through the ages.




This epic of King Louis IX is a drama of religious exaltation, born of
the spirit of music, an adaptation of the Wagnerian idea of elucidating
ancestral sagas in works of art. It was originally designed as an opera.
Rolland actually composed an overture to the work; but this, like his
other musical compositions, remains unpublished. Subsequently he was
satisfied with lyrical treatment in place of music. We find no touch of
Shakespearean passion in these gentle pictures. It is a heroic legend of
the saints, in dramatic form. The scenes remind us of a phrase of
Flaubert's in _La légende de Saint Julien l'Hospitalier_, in that they
are "written as they appear in the stained-glass windows of our
churches." The tints are delicate, like those of the frescoes in the
Panthéon, where Puvis de Chavannes depicts another French saint, Sainte
Geneviève watching over Paris. The soft moonlight playing on the saint's
figure in the frescoes is identical with the light which in Rolland's
drama shines like a halo of goodness round the head of the pious king of

The music of _Parsifal_ seems to sound faintly through the work. We
trace the lineaments of Parsifal himself in this monarch, to whom
knowledge comes not through sympathy but through goodness, and who finds
the aptest phrase to explain his own title to fame, saying: "Pour
comprendre les autres, il ne faut qu'aimer"--To understand others, we
need only love. His leading quality is gentleness, but he has so much of
it that the strong grow weak before him; he has nothing but his faith,
but this faith builds mountains of action. He neither can nor will lead
his people to victory; but he makes his subjects transcend themselves,
transcend their own inertia and the apparently futile venture of the
crusade, to attain faith. Thereby he gives the whole nation the
greatness which ever springs from self-sacrifice. In Saint Louis,
Rolland for the first time presents his favorite type, that of the
vanquished victor. The king never reaches his goal, but "plus qu'il est
écrasé par les choses plus il semble les dominer davantage"--the more he
seems to be crushed by things, the more does he dominate them. When,
like Moses, he is forbidden to set eyes on the promised land, when it
proves to be his destiny "de mourir vaincu," to die conquered, as he
draws his last breath on the mountain slope his soldiers at the summit,
catching sight of the city which is the goal of their aspirations, raise
an exultant shout. Louis knows that to one who strives for the
unattainable the world can never give victory, but "il est beau lutter
pour l'impossible quand l'impossible est Dieu"--it is glorious to fight
for the unattainable when the unattainable is God. For the vanquished
in such a struggle, the highest triumph is reserved. He has stirred up
the weak in soul to do a deed whose rapture is denied to himself; from
his own faith he has created faith in others; from his own spirit has
issued the eternal spirit.

Rolland's first published work exhales the atmosphere of Christianity.
Humility conquers force, faith conquers the world, love conquers hatred;
these eternal truths which have been incorporated in countless sayings
and writings from those of the primitive Christians down to those of
Tolstoi, are repeated once again by Rolland in the form of a legend of
the saints. In his later works, however, with a freer touch, he shows
that the power of faith is not tied to any particular creed. The
symbolical world, which is here used as a romanticist vehicle in which
to enwrap his own idealism, is replaced by the environment of modern
days. Thus we are taught that from Saint Louis and the crusades it is
but a step to our own soul, if it desire "to be great and to defend
greatness on earth."




_Aërt_ was written a year later than _Saint Louis_; more explicitly than
the pious epic does it aim at restoring faith and idealism to the
disheartened nation. _Saint Louis_ is a heroic legend, a tender
reminiscence of former greatness; _Aërt_ is the tragedy of the
vanquished, and a passionate appeal to them to awaken. The stage
directions express this aim clearly: "The scene is cast in an imaginary
Holland of the seventeenth century. We see a people broken by defeat
and, which is much worse, debased thereby. The future presents itself as
a period of slow decadence, whose anticipation definitively annuls the
already exhausted energies.... The moral and political humiliations of
recent years are the foundation of the troubles still in store."

Such is the environment in which Rolland places Aërt, the young prince,
heir to vanished greatness. This Holland is, of course, symbolical of
the Third Republic. Fruitless attempts are made, by the temptations of
loose living, by various artifices, by the instilling of doubt, to break
the captive's faith in greatness, to undermine the one power that still
sustains the debile body and the suffering soul. The hypocrites of his
entourage do their utmost, with luxury, frivolity, and lies, to wean him
from what he considers his high calling, which is to prove himself
worthy heir of a glorious past. He remains unshaken. His tutor, Maître
Trojanus (a forerunner of Anatole France), all of whose qualities,
kindliness, skepticism, energy, and wisdom, are but lukewarm, would like
to make a Marcus Aurelius of his ardent pupil, one who thinks and
renounces rather than one who acts. The lad proudly answers: "I pay due
reverence to ideas, but I recognize something higher than they, moral
grandeur." In a laodicean age, he yearns for action.

But action is force, struggle is blood. His gentle spirit desires peace;
his moral will craves for the right. The youth has within him both a
Hamlet and a Saint-Just, both a vacillator and a zealot. He is a
wraithlike double of Olivier, already able to reckon up all values. The
goal of Aërt's youthful passion is still indeterminate; this passion is
nothing but a flame which wastes itself in words and aspirations. He
does not make the deed come at his beckoning; but the deed takes
possession of him, dragging the weakling down with it into the depths
whence there is no other issue than by death. From degradation he finds
a last rescue, a path to moral greatness, his own deed, done for the
sake of all. Surrounded by the scornful victors, calling to him "Too
late," he answers proudly, "Not too late to be free," and plunges
headlong out of life.

This romanticist play is a piece of tragical symbolism. It reminds us a
little of another youthful composition, the work of a poet who has now
attained fame. I refer to Fritz von Unruh's _Die Offiziere_, in which
the torment of enforced inactivity and repressed heroic will gives rise
to warlike impulses as a means of spiritual enfranchisement. Like
Unruh's hero, Aërt in his outcry proclaims the torpor of his companions,
voices his oppression amid the sultry and stagnant atmosphere of a time
devoid of faith. Encompassed by a gray materialism, during the years
when Zola and Mirbeau were at the zenith of their fame, the lonely
Rolland was hoisting the flag of the ideal over a humiliated land.



With whole-souled faith the young poet uttered his first dramatic
appeals in the heroic form, being mindful of Schiller's saying that
fortunate epochs could devote themselves to the service of beauty,
whereas in times of weakness it was necessary to lean upon the examples
of past heroism. Rolland had issued to his nation a summons to
greatness. There was no answer. His conviction that a new impetus was
indispensable remaining unshaken, Rolland looked for the cause of this
lack of response. He rightly discerned it, not in his own work, but in
the refractoriness of the age. Tolstoi, in his books and in the
wonderful letter to Rolland, had been the first to make the young man
realize the sterility of bourgeois art. Above all in the drama, its most
sensual form of expression, that art had lost touch with the moral and
emotional forces of life. A clique of busy playwrights had monopolized
the Parisian stage. Their eternal theme was adultery, in its manifold
variations. They depicted petty erotic conflicts, but never dealt with a
universally human ethical problem. The audiences, badly counseled by the
press, which deliberately fostered the public's intellectual lethargy,
did not ask to be morally awakened, but merely to be amused and pleased.
The theater was anything in the world other than "the moral institution"
demanded by Schiller and championed by d'Alembert. No breath of passion
found its way from such dramatic art as this into the heart of the
nation; there was nothing but spindrift scattered over the surface by
the breeze. A great gulf was fixed between this witty and sensuous
amusement, and the genuinely creative and receptive energies of France.

Rolland, led by Tolstoi and accompanied by enthusiastic friends,
realized the moral dangers of the situation. He perceived that dramatic
art is worthless and destructive when it lives a life remote from the
people. Unconsciously in _Aërt_ he had heralded what he now formulated
as a definite principle, that the people will be the first to understand
genuinely heroic problems. The simple craftsman Claes in that play is
the only member of the captive prince's circle who revolts against tepid
submission, who burns at the disgrace inflicted on his fatherland. In
other artistic forms than the drama, the titanic forces surging up from
the depths of the people had already been recognized. Zola and the
naturalists had depicted the tragical beauty of the proletariat; Millet
and Meunier had given pictorial and sculptural representations of
proletarians; socialism had unleashed the religious might of the
collective consciousness. The theater alone, vehicle for the most direct
working of art upon the common people, had been captured by the
bourgeoisie, its tremendous possibilities for promoting a moral
renascence being thereby cut off. Unceasingly did the drama practice the
in-and-in breeding of sexual problems. In its pursuit of erotic trifles,
it had over-looked the new social ideas, the most fundamental of modern
times. It was in danger of decay because it no longer thrust its roots
into the permanent subsoil of the nation. The anæmia of dramatic art, as
Rolland recognized, could be cured only by intimate association with the
life of the people. The effeminateness of the French drama must be
replaced by virility through vital contact with the masses. "Seul la
sève populaire peut lui rendre la vie et la santé." If the theater
aspires to be national, it must not merely minister to the luxury of the
upper ten thousand. It must become the moral nutriment of the common
people, and must draw fertility from the folk-soul.

Rolland's work during the next few years was an endeavor to provide such
a theater for the people. A few young men without influence or
authority, strong only in the ardor and sincerity of their youthfulness,
tried to bring this lofty idea to fruition, despite the utter
indifference of the metropolis, and in defiance of the veiled hostility
of the press. In their "_Revue dramatique_" they published manifestoes.
They sought for actors, stages, and helpers. They wrote plays, formed
committees, sent dispatches to ministers of state. In their endeavor to
bridge the chasm between the bourgeois theater and the nation, they
wrought with the fanatical zeal of the leaders of forlorn hopes. Rolland
was their chief. His manifesto, _Le théâtre du peuple_, and his _Théâtre
de la révolution_, are enduring monuments of an attempt which
temporarily ended in defeat, but which, like all his defeats, has been
transmuted, humanly and artistically, into a moral triumph.



"The old era is finished; the new era is beginning." Rolland, writing in
the "Revue dramatique" in 1900, opened his appeal with these words by
Schiller. The summons was twofold, to the writers and to the people,
that they should constitute a new unity, should form a people's theater.
The stage and the plays were to belong to the people. Since the forces
of the people are eternal and unalterable, art must accommodate itself
to the people, not the people to art. This union must be perfected in
the creative depths. It must not be a casual intimacy, but a permeation,
a genetic wedding of souls. The people requires its own art, its own
drama. As Tolstoi phrased it, the people must be the ultimate touchstone
of all values. Its powerful, mystical, eternally religious energy of
inspiration, must become more affirmative and stronger, so that art,
which in its bourgeois associations has grown morbid and wan, can draw
new vigor from the vigor of the people.

To this end it is essential that the people should no longer be a chance
audience, transiently patronized by friendly managers and actors. The
popular performances of the great theaters, such as have been customary
in Paris since the issue of Napoleon's decree on the subject, do not
suffice. Valueless also, in Rolland's view, are the attempts made from
time to time by the Comédie Française to present to the workers the
plays of such court poets as Corneille and Racine. The people do not
want caviare, but wholesome fare. For the nourishment of their
indestructible idealism they need an art of their own, a theater of
their own, and, above all, works adapted to their sensibilities and to
their intellectual tastes. When they come to the theater, they must not
be made to feel that they are tolerated guests in a world of unfamiliar
ideas. In the art that is presented to them they must be able to
recognize the mainspring of their own energies.

More appropriate, in Rolland's opinion, are the attempts which have been
made by isolated individuals like Maurice Pottecher in Bussang (Vosges)
to provide a "théâtre du peuple," presenting to restricted audiences
pieces easily understood. But such endeavors touch small circles only.
The chasm in the gigantic metropolis between the stage and the real
population remains unbridged. With the best will in the world, the
twenty or thirty special representations are witnessed by no more than
an infinitesimal proportion of the population. They do not signify a
spiritual union, or promote a new moral impetus. Dramatic art has no
permanent influence on the masses; and the masses, in their turn, have
no influence on dramatic art. Though, in another literary sphere, Zola,
Charles Louis Philippe, and Maupassant, began long ago to draw fertile
inspiration from proletarian idealism, the drama has remained sterile
and antipopular.

The people, therefore, must have its own theater. When this has been
achieved, what shall we offer to the popular audiences? Rolland makes a
brief survey of world literature. The result is appalling. What can the
workers care for the classical pieces of the French drama? Corneille and
Racine, with their decorous emotion, are alien to him; the subtleties of
Molière are barely comprehensible. The tragedies of classical antiquity,
the writings of the Greek dramatists, would bore the workers; Hugo's
romanticism would repel, despite the author's healthy instinct for
reality. Shakespeare, the universally human, is more akin to the
folk-mind, but his plays must be adapted to fit them for popular
presentation, and thereby they are falsified. Schiller, with _Die
Räuber_ and _Wilhelm Tell_, might be expected to arouse enthusiasm; but
Schiller, like Kleist with _Der Prinz von Homburg_, is, for nationalist
reasons, somewhat uncongenial to the Parisians. Tolstoi's _The Dominion
of Darkness_ and Hauptmann's _Die Weber_ would be comprehensible enough,
but their matter would prove somewhat depressing. While well calculated
to stir the consciences of the guilty, among the people they would
arouse feelings of despair rather than of hope. Anzengruber, a genuine
folk-poet, is too distinctively Viennese in his topics. Wagner, whose
_Die Meistersinger_ Rolland regards as the climax of universally
comprehensible and elevating art, cannot be presented without the aid of

However far he looks back into the past, Rolland can find no answer to
his question. But he is not easily discouraged. To him disappointment is
but a spur to fresh effort. If there are as yet no plays for the
people's theater, it is the sacred duty of the new generation to provide
what is lacking. The manifesto ends with a jubilant appeal: "Tout est à
dire! Tout est à faire! A l'oeuvre!" In the beginning was the deed.



What kind of plays do the people want? It wants "good" plays, in the
sense in which the word "good" is used by Tolstoi when he speaks of
"good books." It wants plays which are easy to understand without being
commonplace; those which stimulate faith without leading the spirit
astray; those which appeal, not to sensuality, not to the love of
sight-seeing, but to the powerful idealistic instincts of the masses.
These plays must not treat of minor conflicts; but, in the spirit of the
antique tragedies, they must display man in the struggle with elemental
forces, man as subject to heroic destiny. "Let us away with complicated
psychologies, with subtle innuendoes, with obscure symbolisms, with the
art of drawing-rooms and alcoves." Art for the people must be
monumental. Though the people desires truth, it must not be delivered
over to naturalism, for art which makes the masses aware of their own
misery will never kindle the sacred flame of enthusiasm, but only the
insensate passion of anger. If, next day, the workers are to resume
their daily tasks with a heightened and more cheerful confidence, they
need a tonic. Thus the evening must have been a source of energy, but
must at the same time have sharpened the intelligence. Undoubtedly the
drama should display the people to the people, not however in the
proletarian dullness of narrow dwellings, but on the pinnacles of the
past. Rolland therefore opines, following to a large extent in
Schiller's footsteps, that the people's theater must be historical in
scope. The populace must not merely make its own acquaintance on the
stage, but must be brought to admire its own past. Here we see the motif
to which Rolland continually returns, the need for arousing a passionate
aspiration towards greatness. In its suffering, the people must learn to
regain delight in its own self.

With marvelous vividness does the imaginative historian display the epic
significance of history. The forces of the past are sacred by reason of
the spiritual energy which is part of every great movement. Reasoning
persons can hardly fail to be revolted when they observe the unwarranted
amount of space allotted to anecdotes, accessories, the trifles of
history, at the expense of its living soul. The power of the past must
be awakened; the will to action must be steeled. Those who live to-day
must learn greatness from their fathers and forefathers. "History can
teach people to get outside themselves, to read in the souls of others.
We discern ourselves in the past, in a mingling of like characters and
differing lineaments, with errors and vices which we can avoid. But
precisely because history depicts the mutable, does it give us a better
knowledge of the unchanging."

What, he goes on to ask, have French dramatists hitherto brought the
people out of the past? The burlesque figure of Cyrano; the gracefully
sentimental personality of the duke of Reichstadt; the artificial
conception of Madame Sans-Gène! "Tout est à faire! Tout est à dire!" The
land of dramatic art still lies fallow. "For France, national epopee is
quite a new thing. Our playwrights have neglected the drama of the
French people, although that people has been perhaps, since the days of
Rome, the most heroic in the world. Europe's heart was beating in the
kings, the thinkers, the revolutionists of France. And great as this
nation has been in all domains of the spirit, its greatness has been
shown above all in the field of action. Herein lay its most sublime
creation; here was its poem, its drama, its epos. France did what others
dreamed of doing. France wrote no Iliads, but lived a dozen. The heroes
of France wrought more splendidly than the poets. No Shakespeare sang
their deeds; but Danton on the scaffold was the spirit of Shakespeare
personified. The life of France has touched the loftiest summits of joy;
it has plumbed the deepest abysses of sorrow. It has been a wonderful
'comédie humaine,' a series of dramas; each of its epochs a new poem."
This past must be recalled to life; French historical drama must restore
it to the French people. "The spirit which soars above the centuries,
will thus soar for centuries to come. If we would engender strong souls,
we must nourish them with the energies of the world." Rolland now
expands the French ode into a European ode. "The world must be our
theme, for a nation is too small." One hundred and twenty years earlier,
Schiller had said: "I write as a citizen of the world. Early did I
exchange my fatherland for mankind." Rolland is fired by Goethe's words:
"National literature now means very little; the epoch of world
literature is at hand." He utters the following appeal: "Let us make
Goethe's prophesy a living reality! It is our task to teach the French
to look upon their national history as a wellspring of popular art; but
on no account should we exclude the sagas of other nations. Though it is
doubtless our first duty to make the most of the treasures we have
ourselves inherited, we must none the less find room on our stage for
the great deeds of all races. Just as Anacharsis Cloots and Thomas Paine
were chosen members of the Convention; just as Schiller, Klopstock,
Washington, Priestley, Bentham, Pestalozzi, and Kosciuszko, are the
heroes of our world; so should we inaugurate in Paris the epopee of the
European people!"

Thus did Rolland's manifesto, passing far beyond the limits of the
stage, become at its close his first appeal to Europe. Uttered by a
solitary voice, it remained for the time unheeded and void of effect.
Nevertheless the confession of faith had been spoken; it was
indestructible; it could never pass away. Jean Christophe had proclaimed
his message to the world.



The task is set. Who shall accomplish it? Romain Rolland answers by
putting his hand to the work. The hero in him shrinks from no defeat;
the youth in him dreads no difficulty. An epic of the French people is
to be written. He does not hesitate to lay the foundations, though
environed by the silence and indifference of the metropolis. As always,
the impetus that drives him is moral rather than artistic. He has a
sense of personal responsibility for an entire nation. By such
productive, by such heroic idealism, alone, and not by a purely
theoretical idealism, can idealism be engendered.

The theme is easy to find. Rolland turns to the greatest moment of
French history, to the Revolution. He responds to the appeal of his
revolutionary forefathers. On the 27th of Floréal, 1794, the Committee
of Public Safety issued an invocation to authors "to glorify the chief
happenings of the French revolution; to compose republican dramas; to
hand down to posterity the great epochs of the French renascence; to
inspire history with the firmness of character appropriate to the annals
of a great nation defending its freedom against the onslaught of all
the tyrants of Europe." On the 11th of Messidor, the Committee asked
young authors "boldly to recognize the whole magnitude of the
undertaking, and to avoid the easy and well-trodden paths of
mediocrity." The signatories of these decrees, Danton, Robespierre,
Carnot, and Couthon, have now become national figures, legendary heroes,
monuments in public places. Where restrictions were imposed on poetic
inspiration by undue proximity to the subject, there is now room for the
imagination to expand, seeing that this history of the period is remote
enough to give free play to the tragic muse. The documents just quoted
issue a summons to the poet and the historian in Rolland; but the same
challenge rings from within as a personal heritage. Boniard, one of his
great-grandfathers on the paternal side, took part in the revolutionary
struggle as "an apostle of liberty," and described in his diary the
storming of the Bastille. More than half a century later, another
relative was fatally stabbed in Clamecy during a rising against the coup
d'état. The blood of revolutionary zealots runs in Rolland's veins, no
less than the blood of religious devotees. A century after 1792, in the
fervor of commemoration, he reconstructed the great figures of that
glorious past. The theater in which the "French Iliads" were to be
staged did not yet exist; no one had hitherto recognized Rolland as a
literary force; actors and audience were alike lacking. Of all the
requisites for the new creation, there existed solely his own faith and
his own will. Building upon faith alone, he began to write _Le théâtre
de la révolution_.




Planning this "Iliad of the French People" for the people's theater,
Rolland designed it as a decalogy, as a time sequence of ten dramas
somewhat after the manner of Shakespeare's histories. "I wished," he
writes in the 1909 preface to _Le théâtre de la révolution_, "in the
totality of this work to exhibit as it were the drama of a convulsion of
nature, to depict a social storm from the moment when the first waves
began to rise above the surface of the ocean down to the moment when
calm spread once more over the face of the waters." No by-play, no
anecdotal trifling, was to mitigate the mighty rhythm of the primitive
forces. "My leading aim was to purify the course of events, as far as
might be, from all romanticist intrigue, which would serve only to
encumber and belittle the movement. Above all I desired to throw light
upon the great political and social interests on behalf of which mankind
has been fighting for a hundred years." It is obvious that the work of
Schiller is closely akin to the idealistic style of this people's
theater. Comparing Rolland's technique with Schiller's, we may say that
Rolland was thinking of a _Don Carlos_ without the Eboli episodes, of a
_Wallenstein_ without the Thekla sentimentalities. He wished to show the
people the sublimities of history, not to entertain the audience with
anecdotes of popular heroes.

Thus conceived as a dramatic cycle, it was simultaneously, from the
musician's outlook, to be a symphony, an "Eroica." A prelude was to
introduce the whole, a pastoral in the style of the "fêtes galantes." We
are at the Trianon, watching the light-hearted unconcern of the ancien
régime; we are shown powdered and patched ladies, amorous cavaliers,
dallying and chattering. The storm is approaching, but no one heeds it.
Once again the age of gallantry smiles; the setting sun of the Grand
Monarque seems to shine once more on the fading tints in the garden of

_Le 14 Juillet_ is the flourish of trumpets; it marks the opening of the
storm. _Danton_ is the critical climax; in the hour of victory comes the
beginning of moral defeat, the fratricidal struggle. A _Robespierre_ was
to introduce the declining phase. _Le triomphe de la raison_ shows the
disintegration of the Revolution in the provinces; _Les loups_ depicts a
like decomposition in the army. Between two of the heroic plays, the
author proposed to insert a love drama, describing the fate of Louvet,
the Girondist. Wishing to visit his beloved in Paris, he leaves his
hiding-place in Gascony, and is the only one to escape the death that
overtakes his friends, who are all guillotined or torn to pieces by the
wolves as they flee. The figures of Marat, Saint-Just, and Adam Lux,
which are merely touched on in the extant plays, were to receive
detailed treatment in the dramas that remain unwritten. Doubtless, too,
the figure of Napoleon would have towered above the dying Revolution.

Opening with a musical and lyrical prelude, this symphonic composition
was to end with a postlude. After the great storm, castaways from the
shipwreck were to foregather in Switzerland, near Soleure. Royalists and
regicides, Girondists and Montagnards, were to exchange reminiscences; a
love episode between two of their children was to lend an idyllic touch
to the aftermath of the European storm. Fragments only of this great
design have been carried to completion, comprising the four dramas, _Le
14 Juillet_, _Danton_, _Les loups_, and _Le triomphe de la raison_. When
these plays had been written, Rolland abandoned the scheme, to which the
people, like the literary world and the stage, had given no
encouragement. For more than a decade these tragedies have been
forgotten. To-day, perchance, the awakening impulses of an age becoming
aware of its own lineaments in the prophetic image of a world
convulsion, may arouse in the author an impulse to complete what was so
magnificently begun.




Of the four completed revolutionary dramas, _Le 14 Juillet_ stands first
in point of historic time. Here we see the Revolution as one of the
elements of nature. No conscious thought has formed it; no leader has
guided it. Like thunder from a clear sky comes the aimless discharge of
the tensions that have accumulated among the people. The thunderbolt
strikes the Bastille; the lightning flash illumines the soul of the
entire nation. This piece has no heroes, for the hero of the play is the
multitude. "Individuals are merged in the ocean of the people," writes
Rolland in the preface. "He who limns a storm at sea, need not paint the
details of every wave; he must show the unchained forces of the ocean.
Meticulous precision is a minor matter compared with the impassioned
truth of the whole." In actual fact, this drama is all tumultuous
movement; individuals rush across the stage like figures on the
cinematographic screen; the storming of the Bastille is not the outcome
of a reasoned purpose, but of an overwhelming, an ecstatic impulse.

_Le 14 Juillet_, therefore, is not properly speaking a drama, and does
not really seek to be anything of the kind. Consciously or
unconsciously, Rolland aimed at creating one of those "fêtes populaires"
which the Convention had encouraged, a people's festival with music and
dancing, an epinikion, a triumphal ode. His work, therefore, is not
suitable for the artificial environment of the boards, and should rather
be played under the free heaven. Opening symphonically, it closes in
exultant choruses for which the author gives definite directions to the
composer. "The music must be, as it were, the background of a fresco. It
must make manifest the heroical significance of the festival; it must
fill in pauses as they can never be adequately filled in by a crowd of
supernumeraries, for these, however much noise they make, fail to
sustain the illusion of real life. This music should be inspired by that
of Beethoven, which more powerfully than any other reflects the
enthusiasms of the Revolution. Above all, it must breathe an ardent
faith. No composer will effect anything great in this vein unless he be
personally inspired by the soul of the people, unless he himself feel
the burning passion that is here portrayed."

Rolland wishes to create an atmosphere of ecstatic rapture. Not by
dramatic excitement, but by its opposite. The theater is to be
forgotten; the multitude in the audience is to become spiritually at one
with its image on the stage. In the last scene, when the phrases are
directly addressed to the audience, when the stormers of the Bastille
appeal to their hearers on behalf of the imperishable victory which
leads men to break the yoke of oppression and to win brotherhood, this
idea must not be a mere echo from the members of the audience, but must
surge up spontaneously in their own hearts. The cry "tous frères" must
be a double chorus of actors and spectators, for the latter, part of the
"courant de foi," must share the intoxication of joy. The spark from
their own past must rekindle in the hearts of to-day. It is manifest
that words alone will not suffice to produce this effect. Hence Rolland
wishes to superadd the higher spell of music, the undying goddess of
pure ecstasy.

The audience of which he dreamed was not forthcoming; nor until twenty
years had elapsed was he to find Doyen, the musician who was almost
competent to fulfill his demands. The representation in the Gemier
Theater on March 21, 1902, wasted itself in the void. His message never
reached the people to whose ear it had been so vehemently addressed.
Without an echo, almost pitifully, was this ode of joy drowned in the
roar of the great city, which had forgotten the deeds of the past, and
which failed to understand its own kinship to Rolland, the man who was
recalling those deeds to memory.




_Danton_ deals with a decisive moment of the Revolution, the
waterparting between the ascent and the decline. What the masses had
created as elemental forces, were now being turned to personal advantage
by individuals, by ambitious leaders. Every spiritual movement, and
above all every revolution or reformation, knows this tragical instant
of victory, when power passes into the hands of the few; when moral
unity is broken in sunder by the conflict between political aims; when
the masses, who in an impetuous onrush have secured freedom, blindly
follow demagogues inspired solely by self-interest. It seems to be an
inevitable sequel of success in such cases, that the nobler should stand
aside in disillusionment, that the idealists should hold aloof while the
self-seeking triumph. At that very time, in the Dreyfus affair, Rolland
had witnessed similar happenings. He realized that the genuine strength
of an idea subsists only during its non-fulfilment. Its true power is in
the hands of those who are not victorious; those to whom the ideal is
everything, success nothing. Victory brings power, and power is just to
itself alone.

The play, therefore, is no longer a drama of the Revolution; it is the
drama of the great revolutionist. Mystical power crystallizes in the
form of human characters. Resoluteness becomes contentiousness. In the
very intoxication of victory, in the queasy atmosphere of the
blood-stained field, begins the new struggle among the pretorians for
the empire they have conquered. There is struggle between ideas;
struggle between personalities; struggle between temperaments; struggle
between persons of different social origin. Now that they are no longer
united as comrades by the compulsion of imminent danger, they recognize
their mutual incompatibilities. The revolutionary crisis comes in the
hour of triumph. The hostile armies have been defeated; the royalists
and the Girondists have been crushed and scattered. Now there arises in
the Convention a battle of all against all. The characters are admirably
delineated. Danton is the good giant, sanguine, warm, and human, a
hurricane in his passions but with no love of fighting for fighting's
sake. He has dreamed of the Revolution as bringing joy to mankind, and
now sees that it has culminated in a new tyranny. He is sickened by
bloodshed, and he detests the butcher's work of the guillotine, just as
Christ would have loathed the Inquisition claiming to represent the
spirit of his teaching. He is filled with horror at his fellows. "Je
suis soûle des hommes. Je les vomis."--I am surfeited with men. I spue
them out of my mouth.--He longs for a frank naturalness, for an
unsophisticated natural life. Now that the danger to the republic is
over, his passion has cooled; his love goes out to woman, to the people,
to happiness; he wishes others to love him. His revolutionary fervor has
been the outcome of an impulse towards freedom and justice; hence he is
beloved by the masses, who recognize in him the instinct which led them
to storm the Bastille, the same scorn of consequence, the same marrow as
their own. Robespierre is uncongenial to them. He is too frigid, he is
too much the lawyer, to enlist their sympathies. But his doctrinaire
fanaticism, his far from ignoble ambition, give him a terrible power
which makes him forge his way onwards when Danton with his cheerful love
of life has ceased to strive. Whilst Danton becomes every day more and
more nauseated by politics, the concentrated energy of Robespierre's
frigid temperament strikes ever closer towards the centralized control
of power. Like his friend Saint-Just--the zealot of virtue, the
blood-thirsty apostle of justice, the stubborn papist or
calvinist--Robespierre can no longer see human beings, who for him are
now hidden behind the theories, the laws, and the dogmas of the new
religion. Not for him, as for Danton, the goal of a happy and free
humanity. What he desires is that men shall be virtuous as the slaves of
prescribed formulas. The collision between Danton and Robespierre upon
the topmost summit of victory is in ultimate analysis the collision
between freedom and law, between the elasticity of life and the rigidity
of concepts. Danton is overthrown. He is too indolent, too heedless, too
human in his defense. But even as he falls it is plain that he will
drag his opponent after him adown the precipice.

In the composition of this tragedy Rolland shows himself to be wholly
the dramatist. Lyricism has disappeared; emotion has vanished amid the
rush of events; the conflict arises from the liberation of human energy,
from the clash of feelings and of personalities. In _Le 14 Juillet_ the
masses had played the principal part, but in this new phase of the
Revolution they have become mere spectators once more. Their will, which
had been concentrated during a brief hour of enthusiasm, has been broken
into fragments, so that they are blown before every breath of oratory.
The ardors of the Revolution are dissipated in intrigues. It is not the
heroic instinct of the people which now dominates the situation, but the
authoritarian and yet indecisive spirit of the intellectuals. Whilst in
_Le 14 Juillet Rolland_ exhibits to his nation the greatness of its
powers; in _Danton_ he depicts the danger of its all too prompt relapse
into passivity, the peril that ever follows hard upon the heels of
victory. From this outlook, therefore, _Danton_ likewise is a call to
action, an energizing elixir. Thus did Jaurès characterize it, Jaurès
who himself resembled Danton in his power of oratory, introducing the
work when it was staged at the Théâtre Civique on December 20, 1900--a
performance forgotten in twenty-four hours, like all Rolland's early




_Le triomphe de la raison_ is no more than a fragment of the great
fresco. But it is inspired with the central thought round which
Rolland's ideas turn. In it for the first time there is a complete
exposition of the dialectic of defeat--the passionate advocacy of the
vanquished, the transformation of actual overthrow into spiritual
triumph. This thought, first conceived in his childhood and reinforced
by all his experience, forms the kernel of the author's moral
sensibility. The Girondists have been defeated, and are defending
themselves in a fortress against the sansculottes. The royalists, aided
by the English, wish to rescue them. Their ideal, the freedom of the
spirit and the freedom of the fatherland, has been destroyed by the
Revolution; their foes are Frenchmen. But the royalists who would help
them are likewise their enemies; the English are their country's foes.
Hence arises a conflict of conscience which is powerfully portrayed. Are
they to be faithless to their ideal, or to betray their country? Are
they to be citizens of the spirit or citizens of France? Are they to be
true to themselves or true to the nation? Such is the fateful decision
with which they are confronted. They choose death, for they know that
their ideal is immortal, that the freedom of a nation is but the
reflection of an inner freedom which no foe can destroy.

For the first time, in this play, Rolland proclaims his hostility to
victory. Faber proudly declares: "We have saved our faith from a victory
which would have disgraced us, from one wherein the conqueror is the
first victim. In our unsullied defeat, that faith looms more richly and
gloriously than before." Lux, the German revolutionist, proclaims the
gospel of inner freedom in the words: "All victory is evil, whereas all
defeat is good in so far as it is the outcome of free choice." Hugot
says: "I have outstripped victory, and that is my victory." These men of
noble mind who perish, know that they die alone; they do not look
towards a future success; they put no trust in the masses, for they are
aware that in the higher sense of the term freedom it is a thing which
the multitude can never understand, that the people always misconceives
the best. "The people always dreads those who form an elite, for these
bear torches. Would that the fire might scorch the people!" In the end,
the only home of these Girondists is the ideal; their domain is an ideal
freedom; their world is the future. They have saved their country from
the despots; now they had to defend it once again against the mob
lusting for dominion and revenge, against those who care no more for
freedom than the despots cared. Designedly, the rigid nationalists,
those who demand that a man shall sacrifice everything for his country,
shall sacrifice his convictions, liberty, reason itself, designedly I
say are these monomaniacs of patriotism typified in the plebeian figure
of Haubourdin. This sansculotte knows only two kinds of men, "traitors"
and "patriots," thus rending the world in twain in his bigotry. It is
true that the vigor of his brutal partisanship brings victory. But the
very force that makes it possible to save a people against a world in
arms, is at the same time a force which destroys that people's most
gracious blossoms.

The drama is the opening of an ode to the free man, to the hero of the
spirit, the only hero whose heroism Rolland acknowledges. The
conception, which had been merely outlined in _Aërt_, begins here to
take more definite shape. Adam Lux, a member of the Mainz revolutionary
club, who, animated by the fire of enthusiasm, has made his way to
France that he may live for freedom (and that he may be led in pursuit
of freedom to the guillotine), this first martyr to idealism, is the
first messenger from the land of Jean Christophe. The struggle of the
free man for the undying fatherland which is above and beyond the land
of his birth, has begun. This is the struggle wherein the vanquished is
ever the victor, and wherein he is the strongest who fights alone.




In _Le triomphe de la raison_, men to whom conscience is supreme were
confronted with a vital decision. They had to choose between their
country and freedom, between the interests of the nation and those of
the supranational spirit. _Les loups_ embodies a variation of the same
theme. Here the choice has to be made between the fatherland and

The subject has already been mooted in _Danton_. Robespierre and his
henchmen decide upon the execution of Danton. They demand his immediate
arrest and condemnation. Saint-Just, passionately opposed to Danton,
makes no objection to the prosecution, but insists that all must be done
in due form of law. Robespierre, aware that delay will give the victory
to Danton, wishes the law to be infringed. His country is worth more to
him than the law. "Vaincre à tout prix"--conquer at any cost--calls one.
"When the country is in danger, it matters nothing that one man should
be illegally condemned," cries another. Saint-Just bows before the
argument, sacrificing honor to expediency, the law to his fatherland.

In _Les loups_, we have the obverse of the same tragedy. Here is
depicted a man who would rather sacrifice himself than the law. One who
holds with Faber in _Le triomphe de la raison_ that a single injustice
makes the whole world unjust; one to whom, as to Hugot, the other hero
in the same play, it seems indifferent whether justice be victorious or
be defeated, so long as justice does not give up the struggle. Teulier,
the man of learning, knows that his enemy d'Oyron has been unjustly
accused of treachery. Though he realizes that the case is hopeless and
that he is wasting his pains, he undertakes to defend d'Oyron against
the patriotic savagery of the revolutionary soldiers, to whom victory is
the only argument. Adopting as his motto the old saying, "fiat justitia,
pereat mundus," facing open-eyed all the dangers this involves, he would
rather repudiate life than the leadings of the spirit "A soul which has
seen truth and seeks to deny truth, destroys itself." But the others are
of tougher fiber, and think only of success in arms. "Let my name be
besmirched, provided only my country is saved," is Quesnel's answer to
Teulier. Patriotism, the faith of the masses, triumphs over the heroism
of faith in the invisible justice.

This tragedy of a conflict recurring throughout the ages, one which
every individual has forced upon him in wartime through the need for
choosing between his responsibilities as a free moral agent and as an
obedient citizen of the state, was the reflection of the actual
happenings during the days when it was written. In _Les loups_, the
Dreyfus affair is emblematically presented in masterly fashion. Dreyfus
the Jew is typified by an aristocrat, the member of a suspect and
detested social stratum. Picquart, the defender of Dreyfus, is Teulier.
The aristocrat's enemies represent the French general headquarters
staff, who would rather perpetuate an injustice once committed than
allow the honor of the army to be tarnished or confidence in the army to
be undermined. Upon a narrow stage, and yet with effective pictorial
force, in this tragedy of army life was compressed the whole of the
history which was agitating France from the presidential palace down to
the humblest working-class dwelling. The performance at the Théâtre de
l'Oeuvre on May 18, 1898, was from first to last a political
demonstration. Zola, Scheurer-Kestner, Péguy, and Picquart, the
defenders of the innocent man, all the chief figures in the world-famous
trial, were for two hours spectators of the dramatic symbolization of
their own deeds. Rolland had grasped and extracted the moral essence of
the Dreyfus affair, which had in fact become a purifying process for the
whole French nation. Leaving history, the author had made his first
venture into the field of contemporary actuality. But he had done this
only, in accordance with the method he has followed ever since, that he
might disclose the eternal elements in the temporal, and defend freedom
of opinion against mob infatuation. He was on this occasion what he has
always remained, the advocate of that heroism which knows one authority
only, neither fatherland nor victory, neither success nor expediency,
nothing but the supreme authority of conscience.



The ears of the people were deaf. Rolland's work seemed to have been
fruitless. Not one of the dramas was played for more than a few nights.
Most of them were buried after a single performance, slain by the
hostility of the critics and the indifference of the crowd. Futile, too,
had been the struggles of Rolland and his friends on behalf of the
people's theater. The government to which they had addressed an appeal
for the founding of a popular theater in Paris, paid little attention.
M. Adrien Bernheim was dispatched to Berlin to make inquiries. He
reported. Further reports were made. The matter was discussed for a
while, but was ultimately shelved. Rostand and Bernstein continued to
triumph in the boulevards; the great call to idealism had remained

Where could the author look for help in the completion of his splendid
program? To what nation could he turn when his own made no response, _Le
théâtre de la révolution_ remained a fragment. A _Robespierre_, which
was to be the spiritual counterpart of _Danton_, already sketched in
broad outline, was left unfinished. The other segments of the great
dramatic cycle have never been touched. Bundles of studies, newspaper
cuttings, loose leaves, manuscript books, waste paper, are the vestiges
of an edifice which was planned as a pantheon for the French people, a
theater which was to reflect the heroic achievements of the French
spirit. Rolland may well have shared the feelings of Goethe who,
mournfully recalling his earlier dramatic dreams, said on one occasion
to Eckermann: "Formerly I fancied it would be possible to create a
German theater. I cherished the illusion that I could myself contribute
to the foundations of such a building.... But there was no stir in
response to my efforts, and everything remains as of old. Had I been
able to exert an influence, had I secured approval, I should have
written a dozen plays like _Iphigenia_ and _Tasso_. There was no
scarcity of material. But, as I have told you, we lack actors to play
such pieces with spirit, and we lack a public to form an appreciative

The call was lost in the void. "There was no stir in response to my
efforts, and everything remains as of old." But Rolland, likewise,
remains as of old, inspired with the same faith, whether he has
succeeded or whether he has failed. He is ever willing to begin work
over again, marching stoutly across the land of lost endeavor towards a
new and more distant goal. We may apply to him Rilke's fine phrase, and
say that, if he needs must be vanquished, he aspires "to be vanquished
always in a greater and yet greater cause."




Once only has Rolland been tempted to resume dramatic composition.
(Parenthetically I may mention a minor play of the same period, _La
Montespan_, which does not belong to the series of his greater works.)
As in the case of the Dreyfus affair, he endeavored to extract the moral
essence from political occurrences, to show how a spiritual conflict was
typified in one of the great happenings of the time. The Boer War is no
more than a vehicle; just as, for the plays we have been studying, the
Revolution was merely a stage. The new drama deals in actual fact with
the only authority Rolland recognizes, conscience. The conscience of the
individual and the conscience of the world.

_Le temps viendra_ is the third, the most impressive variation upon the
earlier theme, depicting the cleavage between conviction and duty,
citizenship and humanity, the national man and the free man. A war drama
of the conscience staged amid a war in the material world. In _Le
triomphe de la raison_, the problem was one of freedom versus the
fatherland; in _Les loups_ it was one of justice versus the fatherland.
Here we have a yet loftier variation of the theme; the conflict of
conscience, of eternal truth, versus the fatherland. The chief figure,
though not spiritually the hero of the piece, is Clifford, leader of the
invading army. He is waging an unjust war--and what war is just? But he
wages it with a strategist's brain; his heart is not in the work. He
knows "how much rottenness there is in war"; he knows that war cannot be
effectively waged without hatred for the enemy; but he is too cultured
to hate. He knows that it is impossible to carry on war without
falsehood; impossible to kill without infringing the principles of
humanity; impossible to create military justice, since the whole aim of
war is unjust. He knows this with one part of his being, which is the
real Clifford; but he has to repudiate the knowledge with the other part
of his being, the professional soldier. He is confined within an iron
ring of contradictions. "Obéir à ma patrie? Obéir à ma conscience?" It
is impossible to gain the victory without doing wrong, yet who can
command an army if he lack the will to conquer? Clifford must serve that
will, even while he despises the force which his duty compels him to
use. He cannot be a man unless he thinks, and yet he cannot remain a
soldier while preserving his humanity. Vainly does he seek to mitigate
the brutalities of his task; fruitlessly does he endeavor to do good
amid the bloodshed which issues from his orders. He is aware that "there
are gradations in crime, but every one of these gradations remains a
crime." Other notable figures in the play are: the cynic, whose only
aim is the profit of his own country; the army sportsman; those who
blindly obey; the sentimentalist, who shuts his eyes to all that is
painful, contemplating as a puppet-show what is tragedy to those who
have to endure it. The background to these figures is the lying spirit
of contemporary civilization, with its neat phrases to justify every
outrage, and its factories built upon tombs. To our civilization applies
the charge inscribed upon the opening page, raising the drama into the
sphere of universal humanity: "This play has not been written to condemn
a single nation, but to condemn Europe."

The true hero of the piece is not General Clifford, the conqueror of
South Africa, but the free spirit, as typified in the Italian volunteer,
a citizen of the world who threw himself into the fray that he might
defend freedom, and in the Scottish peasant who lays aside his rifle
with the words, "I will kill no longer." These men have no other
fatherland than conscience, no other home than their own humanity. The
only fate they acknowledge is that which the free man creates for
himself. Rolland is with them, the vanquished, as he is ever with those
who voluntarily accept defeat. It is from his soul that rises the cry of
the Italian volunteer, "Ma patrie est partout où la liberté est
menacée." Aërt, Saint Louis, Hugot, the Girondists, Teulier, the martyrs
in _Les loups_, are the author's spiritual brethren, the children of his
belief that the individual's will is stronger than his secular
environment. This faith grows ever greater, takes on an ever wider
oscillation, as the years pass. In his first plays he was still speaking
to France. His last work written for the stage addresses a wider
audience; it is his confession of world citizenship.



We have seen that Rolland's plays form a whole, which for
comprehensiveness may compared with the work of Shakespeare, Schiller,
or Hebbel. Recent stage performances in Germany have shown that in
places, at least, they possess great dramatic force. The historical fact
that work of such magnitude and power should remain for twenty years
practically unknown, must have some deeper cause than chance. The effect
of a literary composition is always in large part dependent upon the
atmosphere of the time. Sometimes this atmosphere may so operate as to
make it seem that a spark has fallen into a powder-barrel heaped full of
accumulated sensibilities. Sometimes the influence of the atmosphere may
be repressive in manifold ways. A work, therefore, taken alone, can
never reflect an epoch. Such reflection can only be secured when the
work is harmonious to the epoch in which it originates.

We infer that the innermost essence of Rolland's plays must in one way
or another have conflicted with the age in which they were written. In
actual fact, these dramas were penned in deliberate opposition to the
dominant literary mode. Naturalism, the representation of reality,
simultaneously mastered and oppressed the time, leading back with intent
into the narrows, the trivialities, of everyday life. Rolland, on the
other hand, aspired towards greatness, wishing to raise the dynamic of
undying ideals high above the transiencies of fact; he aimed at a
soaring flight, at a winged freedom of sentiment, at exuberant energy;
he was a romanticist and an idealist. Not for him to describe the forces
of life, its distresses, its powers, and its passions; his purpose was
ever to depict the spirit that overcomes these things; the idea through
which to-day is merged into eternity. Whilst other writers were
endeavoring to portray everyday occurrences with the utmost fidelity,
his aim was to represent the rare, the sublime, the heroic, the seeds of
eternity that fall from heaven to germinate on earth. He was not allured
by life as it is, but by life freely inter-penetrated with spirit and
with will.

All his dramas, therefore, are problem plays, wherein the characters are
but the expression of theses and antitheses in dialectical struggle. The
idea, not the living figure, is the primary thing. When the persons of
the drama are in conflict, above them, like the gods in the Iliad, hover
unseen the ideas that lead the human protagonists, the ideas between
which the struggle is really waged. Rolland's heroes are not impelled to
action by the force of circumstances, but are lured to action by the
fascination of their own thoughts; the circumstances are merely the
friction-surfaces upon which their ardor is struck into flame. When to
the eye of the realist they are vanquished, when Aërt plunges into
death, when Saint Louis is consumed by fever, when the heroes of the
Revolution stride to the guillotine, when Clifford and Owen fall victims
to violence, the tragedy of their mortal lives is transfigured by the
heroism of their martyrdom, by the unity and purity of realized ideals.

Rolland has openly proclaimed the name of the intellectual father of his
tragedies. Shakespeare was no more than the burning bush, the first
herald, the stimulus, the inimitable model. To Shakespeare, Rolland owes
his impetus, his ardor, and in part his dialectical power. But as far as
spiritual form is concerned, he has picked up the mantle of another
master, one whose work as dramatist still remains almost unknown. I
refer to Ernest Renan, and to the _Drames philosophiques_, among which
_L'abbesse de Jouarre_ and _Le prêtre de Nemi_ exercised a decisive
influence upon the younger playwright. The art of discussing spiritual
problems in actual drama instead of in essays or in such dialogues as
those of Plato, was a legacy from Renan, who gave kindly help and
instruction to the aspiring student. From Renan, too, came the inner
calm of justice, together with the clarity which never failed to lift
the writer above the conflicts he was describing. But whereas the sage
of Tréguier, in his serene aloofness, regarded all human activities as a
perpetually renewed illusion, so that his works voiced a somewhat
ironical and even malicious skepticism, in Rolland we find a new
element, the flame of an idealism that is still undimmed to-day. Strange
indeed is the paradox, that one who of all modern writers is the most
fervent in his faith, should borrow the artistic forms he employs from
the master of cautious doubt. Hence what in Renan had a retarding and
cooling influence, becomes in Rolland a cause of vigorous and
enthusiastic action. Whilst Renan stripped all the legends, even the
most sacred of legends, bare, in his search for a wise but tepid truth,
Rolland is led by his revolutionary temperament to create a new legend,
a new heroism, a new emotional spur to action.

This ideological scaffolding is unmistakable in every one of Rolland's
dramas. The scenic variations, the motley changes in the cultural
environments, cannot prevent our realizing that the problems revealed to
our eyes emanate, not from feelings and not from personalities, but from
intelligences and from ideas. Even the historical figures, those of
Robespierre, Danton, Saint-Just, and Desmoulins, are schemata rather
than portraits. Nevertheless, the prolonged estrangement between his
dramas and the age in which they were written, was not so much due to
the playwright's method of treatment as to the nature of the problems
with which he chose to deal. Ibsen, who at that time dominated the
drama, likewise wrote plays with a purpose. Ibsen, far more even than
Rolland, had definite ends in view. Like Strindberg, Ibsen did not
merely wish to present comparisons between elemental forces, but in
addition to present their formulation. These northern writers
intellectualized much more than Rolland, inasmuch as they were
propagandists, whereas Rolland merely endeavored to show ideas in the
act of unfolding their own contradictions. Ibsen and Strindberg desired
to make converts; Rolland's aim was to display the inner energy that
animates every idea. Whilst the northerners hoped to produce a specific
effect, Rolland was in search of a general effect, the arousing of
enthusiasm. For Ibsen, as for the contemporary French dramatists, the
conflict between man and woman living in the bourgeois environment
always occupies the center of the stage. Strindberg's work is animated
by the myth of sexual polarity. The lie against which both these writers
are campaigning is a conventional, a social, lie. The dramatic interest
remains the same. The spiritual arena is still that of bourgeois life.
This applies even to the mathematical sobriety of Ibsen and to the
remorseless analysis of Strindberg. Despite the vituperation of the
critics, the world of Ibsen and Strindberg was still the critics' world.

On the other hand, the problems with which Rolland's plays were
concerned could never awaken the interest of a bourgeois public, for
they were political, ideal, heroic, revolutionary problems. The surge of
his more comprehensive feelings engulfed the lesser tensions of sex.
Rolland's dramas leave the erotic problem untouched, and this damns them
for a modern audience. He presents a new type, political drama in the
sense phrased by Napoleon, conversing with Goethe at Erfurt. "La
politique, voilà la fatalité moderne." The tragic dramatist always
displays human beings in conflict with forces. Man becomes great through
his resistance to these forces. In Greek tragedy the powers of fate
assumed mythical forms: the wrath of the gods, the disfavor of evil
spirits, disastrous oracles. We see this in the figures of Oedipus,
Prometheus, and Philoctetes. For us moderns, it is the overwhelming
power of the state, organized political force, massed destiny, against
which as individuals we stand weaponless; it is the great spiritual
storms, "les courants de foi," which inexorably sweep us away like
straws before the wind. No less incalculably than did the fabled gods of
antiquity, no less overwhelmingly and pitilessly, does the world-destiny
make us its sport. War is the most powerful of these mass influences,
and, for this reason, nearly all Rolland's plays take war as their
theme. Their moral force consists in the way wherein again and again
they show how the individual, a Prometheus in conflict with the gods, is
able in the spiritual sphere to break the unseen yoke; how the
individual idea remains stronger than the mass idea, the idea of the
fatherland--though the latter can still destroy a hardy rebel with the
thunderbolts of Jupiter.

The Greeks first knew the gods when the gods were angry. Our gloomy
divinity, the fatherland, blood-thirsty as the gods of old, first
becomes fully known to us in time of war. Unless fate lowers, man rarely
thinks of these hostile forces; he despises them or forgets them, while
they lurk in the darkness, awaiting the advent of their day. A peaceful,
a laodicean era had no interest in tragedies foreshadowing the
opposition of the forces which were twenty years later to engage in
deadly struggle in the blood-stained European arena. What should those
care who strayed into the theater from the Parisian boulevards, members
of an audience skilled in the geometry of adultery, what should they
care about such problems as those in Rolland's plays: whether it is
better to serve the fatherland or to serve justice; whether in war time
soldiers must obey orders or follow the call of conscience? The
questions seemed at best but idle trifling, remote from reality,
charades, the untimely musings of a cloistered moralist; problems in the
fourth dimension. "What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?"--though in
truth it would have been well to heed Cassandra's warning. The tragedy
and the greatness of Rolland's plays lies in this, that they came a
generation before their day. They seem to have been written for the time
we have just had to live through. They seem to foretell in lofty symbols
the spiritual content of to-day's political happenings. The outburst of
a revolution, the concentration of its energies into individual
personalities, the decline of passion into brutality and into suicidal
chaos, as typified in the figures of Kerensky, Lenin, Liebknecht, is the
anticipatory theme of Rolland's plays. The anguish of Aërt, the
struggles of the Girondists who had likewise to defend themselves upon
two fronts, against the brutality of war and against the brutality of
the Revolution--have we not all of late realized these things with the
vividness of personal experience? Since 1914, what question has been
more pressing than that of the conflict between the free-spirited
internationalist and the mass frenzy of his fellow countrymen? Where,
during recent decades, has there been produced any other drama which can
present these soul-searching problems so vividly and with so much human
understanding as do the tragedies which lay for years in obscurity, and
were then overshadowed by the fame of their late-born brother, _Jean
Christophe_? These dramas, parerga as it seemed, were aimed, in an hour
when peace still ruled the world, at the center of our contemporary
consciousness, which was then still unwoven by the looms of time. The
stone which the builders of the stage contemptuously rejected, will
perhaps become the foundation of a new theater, grandly conceived,
contemporary and yet heroical, the theater of the free European
brotherhood, for whose sake it was fashioned in solitude decades ago by
the lonely creator.



     I prepare myself by the study of history and the practice of
     writing. So doing, I welcome always in my soul the memory of the
     best and most renowned of men. For whenever the enforced
     associations of daily life arouse worthless, evil, or ignoble
     feelings, I am able to repel these feelings and to keep them at a
     distance, by dispassionately turning my thoughts to contemplate the
     brightest examples.

     PLUTARCH, _Preamble to the Life of Timoleon_.



At twenty years of age, and again at thirty years of age, in his early
works, Rolland had wished to depict enthusiasm as the highest power of
the individual and as the creative soul of an entire people. For him,
that man alone is truly alive whose spirit is consumed with longing for
the ideal, that nation alone is inspired which collects its forces in an
ardent faith. The dream of his youth was to arouse a weary and
vanquished generation, infirm of will; to stimulate its faith; to bring
salvation to the world through enthusiasm.

Vain had been the attempt. Ten years, fifteen years--how easily the
phrase is spoken, but how long the time may seem to a sad heart--had
been spent in fruitless endeavor. Disillusionment had followed upon
disillusionment. _Le théâtre du peuple_ had come to nothing; the Dreyfus
affair had been merged in political intrigue; the dramas were waste
paper. There had been no stir in response to his efforts. His friends
were scattered. Whilst the companions of his youth had already attained
to fame, Rolland was still the beginner. It almost seemed as if the more
he did, the more his work was ignored. None of his aims had been
fulfilled. Public life was lukewarm and torpid as of old. The world was
in search of profit instead of faith and spiritual force.

His private life likewise lay in ruins. His marriage, entered into with
high hopes, was one more disappointment. During these years Rolland had
individual experience of a tragedy whose cruelty his work leaves
unnoticed, for his writings never touch upon the narrower troubles of
his own life. Wounded to the heart, ship-wrecked in all his
undertakings, he withdrew into solitude. His workroom, small and simple
as a monastic cell, became his world; work his consolation. He had now
to fight the hardest fight on behalf of the faith of his youth, that he
might not lose it in the darkness of despair.

In his solitude he read the literature of the day. And since in all
voices man hears the echo of his own, Rolland found everywhere pain and
loneliness. He studied the lives of the artists, and having done so he
wrote: "The further we penetrate into the existence of great creators,
the more strongly are we impressed by the magnitude of the unhappiness
by which their lives were enveloped. I do not merely mean that, being
subject to the ordinary trials and disappointments of mankind, their
higher emotional susceptibility rendered these smarts exceptionally
keen. I mean that their genius, placing them in advance of their
contemporaries by twenty, thirty, fifty, nay often a hundred years, and
thus making of them wanderers in the desert, condemned them to the most
desperate exertions if they were but to live, to say nothing of winning
to victory." Thus these great ones among mankind, those towards whom
posterity looks back with veneration, those who will for all time bring
consolation to the lonely in spirit, were themselves "pauvres vaincus,
les vainqueurs du monde"--the conquerors of the world, but themselves
beaten in the fray. An endless chain of perpetually repeated and
unmeaning torments binds their successive destinies into a tragical
unity. "Never," as Tolstoi pointed out in the oft-mentioned letter, "do
true artists share the common man's power of contented enjoyment." The
greater their natures, the greater their suffering. And conversely, the
greater their suffering the fuller the development of their own

Rolland thus recognizes that there is another greatness, a profounder
greatness, than that of action, the greatness of suffering. Unthinkable
would be a Rolland who did not draw fresh faith from all experience,
however painful; unthinkable one who failed, in his own suffering, to be
mindful of the sufferings of others. As a sufferer, he extends a
greeting to all sufferers on earth. Instead of a fellowship of
enthusiasm, he now looks for a brotherhood of the lonely ones of the
world, as he shows them the meaning and the grandeur of all sorrow. In
this new circle, the nethermost of fate, he turns to noble examples.
"Life is hard. It is a continuous struggle for all those who cannot come
to terms with mediocrity. For the most part it is a painful struggle,
lacking sublimity, lacking happiness, fought in solitude and silence.
Oppressed by poverty, by domestic cares, by crushing and gloomy tasks
demanding an aimless expenditure of energy, joyless and hopeless, most
people work in isolation, without even the comfort of being able to
stretch forth a hand to their brothers in misfortune." To build these
bridges between man and man, between suffering and suffering, is now
Rolland's task. To the nameless sufferers, he wishes to show those in
whom personal sorrow was transmuted to become gain for millions yet to
come. He would, as Carlyle phrased it, "make manifest ... the divine
relation ... which at all times unites a Great Man to other men." The
million solitaries have a fellowship; it is that of the great martyrs of
suffering, those who, though stretched on the rack of destiny, never
foreswore their faith in life, those whose very sufferings helped to
make life richer for others. "Let them not complain too piteously, the
unhappy ones, for the best of men share their lot. It is for us to grow
strong with their strength. If we feel our weakness, let us rest on
their knees. They will give solace. From their spirits radiate energy
and goodness. Even if we did not study their works, even if we did not
hearken to their voices, from the light of their countenances, from the
fact that they have lived, we should know that life is never greater,
never more fruitful--never happier--than in suffering."

It was in this spirit, for his own good, and for the consolation of his
unknown brothers in sorrow, that Rolland undertook the composition of
the heroic biographies.



Like the revolutionary dramas, the new creative cycle was preluded by a
manifesto, a new call to greatness. The preface to _Beethoven_
proclaims: "The air is fetid. Old Europe is suffocating in a sultry and
unclean atmosphere. Our thoughts are weighed down by a petty
materialism.... The world sickens in a cunning and cowardly egoism. We
are stifling. Throw the windows wide; let in the free air of heaven. We
must breathe the souls of the heroes." What does Rolland mean by a hero?
He does not think of those who lead the masses, wage victorious wars,
kindle revolutions; he does not refer to men of action, or to those
whose thoughts engender action. The nullity of united action has become
plain to him. Unconsciously in his dramas he has depicted the tragedy of
the idea as something which cannot be divided among men like bread, as
something which in each individual's brain and blood undergoes prompt
transformation into a new form, often into its very opposite. True
greatness is for him to be found only in solitude, in struggle waged by
the individual against the unseen. "I do not give the name of heroes to
those who have triumphed, whether by ideas or by physical force. By
heroes I mean those who were great through the power of the heart. As
one of the greatest (Tolstoi) has said, 'I recognize no other sign of
superiority than goodness. Where the character is not great, there is
neither a great artist nor a great man of action; there is nothing but
one of the idols of the crowd; time will shatter them together.... What
matters, is to be great, not to seem great.'"

A hero does not fight for the petty achievements of life, for success,
for an idea in which all can participate; he fights for the whole, for
life itself. Whoever turns his back on the struggle because he dreads to
be alone, is a weakling who shrinks from suffering; he is one who with a
mask of artificial beauty would conceal from himself the tragedy of
mortal life; he is a liar. True heroism is that which faces realities.
Rolland fiercely exclaims: "I loathe the cowardly idealism of those who
refuse to see the tragedies of life and the weaknesses of the soul. To a
nation that is prone to the deceitful illusions of resounding words, to
such a nation above all, is it necessary to say that the heroic
falsehood is a form of cowardice. There is but one heroism on earth--to
know life and yet to love it."

Suffering is not the great man's goal. But it is his ordeal; the needful
filter to effect purification; "the swiftest beast of burden bearing us
towards perfection," as Meister Eckhart said. "In suffering alone do we
rightly understand art; through sorrow alone do we learn those things
which outlast the centuries, and are stronger than death." Thus for the
great man, the painful experiences of life are transmuted into
knowledge, and this knowledge is further transmuted into the power of
love. Suffering does not suffice by itself to produce greatness; we need
to have achieved a triumph over suffering. He who is broken by the
distresses of life, and still more he who shirks the troubles of life,
is stamped with the imprint of defeat, and even his noblest work will
bear the marks of this overthrow. None but he who rises from the depths,
can bring a message to the heights of the spirit; paradise must be
reached by a path that leads through purgatory. Each must discover this
path for himself; but the one who strides along it with head erect is a
leader, and can lift others into his own world. "Great souls are like
mountain peaks. Storms lash them; clouds envelop them; but on the peaks
we breathe more freely than elsewhere. In that pure atmosphere, the
wounds of the heart are cleansed; and when the cloudbanks part, we gain
a view of all mankind."

To such lofty outlooks Rolland wishes to lead the sufferers who are
still in the darkness of torment. He desires to show them the heights
where suffering grows one with nature and where struggle becomes heroic.
"Sursum corda," he sings, chanting a song of praise as he reveals the
sublime pictures of creative sorrow.



Beethoven, the master of masters, is the first figure sculptured on the
heroic frieze of the invisible temple. From Rolland's earliest years,
since his beloved mother had initiated him into the magic world of
music, Beethoven had been his teacher, had been at once his monitor and
consoler. Though fickle to other childish loves, to this love he had
ever remained faithful. "During the crises of doubt and depression which
I experienced in youth, one of Beethoven's melodies, one which still
runs in my head, would reawaken in me the spark of eternal life." By
degrees the admiring pupil came to feel a desire for closer acquaintance
with the earthly existence of the object of his veneration. Journeying
to Vienna, he saw there the room in the House of the Black Spaniard,
since demolished, where the great musician passed away during a storm.
At Mainz, in 1901, he attended the Beethoven festival. In Bonn he saw
the garret in which the messiah of the language without words was born.
It was a shock to him to find in what narrow straits this universal
genius had passed his days. He perused letters and other documents
conveying the cruel history of Beethoven's daily life, the life from
which the musician, stricken with deafness, took refuge in the music of
the inner, the imperishable universe. Shudderingly Rolland came to
realize the greatness of this "tragic Dionysus," cribbed in our somber
and unfeeling world.

After the visit to Bonn, Rolland wrote an article for the "_Revue de
Paris_," entitled _Les fêtes de Beethoven_. His muse, however, desired
to sing without restraint, freed from the trammels imposed by critical
contemplation. Rolland wished, not once again to expound the musician to
musicians, but to reveal the hero to humanity at large; not to recount
the pleasure experienced on hearing Beethoven's music, but to give
utterance to the poignancy of his own feelings. He desired to show forth
Beethoven the hero, as the man who, after infinite suffering, composed
the greatest hymn of mankind, the divine exultation of the Ninth

"Beloved Beethoven," thus the enthusiast opens. "Enough ... many have
extolled his greatness as an artist, but he is far more than the first
of all musicians. He is the heroic energy of modern art, the greatest
and best friend of all who suffer and struggle. When we mourn over the
sorrows of the world, he comes to our solace. It is as if he seated
himself at the piano in the room of a bereaved mother, comforting her
with the wordless song of resignation. When we are wearied by the
unending and fruitless struggle against mediocrity in vice and in
virtue, what an unspeakable delight is it to plunge once more into this
ocean of will and faith. He radiates the contagion of courage, the joy
of combat, the intoxication of spirit which God himself feels.... What
victory is comparable to this? What conquest of Napoleon's? What sun of
Austerlitz can compare in refulgence with this superhuman effort, this
triumph of the spirit, achieved by a poor and unhappy man, by a lonely
invalid, by one who, though he was sorrow incarnate, though life denied
him joy, was able to create joy that he might bestow it on the world. As
he himself proudly phrases it, he forges joy out of his own
misfortunes.... The device of every heroic soul must be: Out of
suffering cometh joy."

Thus does Rolland apostrophize the unknown. Finally he lets the master
speak from his own life. He opens the Heiligenstadt "Testament," in
which the retiring man confided to posterity the profound grief which he
concealed from his contemporaries. He recounts the confession of faith
of the sublime pagan. He quotes letters showing the kindliness which the
great musician vainly endeavored to hide behind an assumed acerbity.
Never before had the universal humanity in Beethoven been brought so
near to the sight of our generation, never before had the heroism of
this lonely life been so magnificently displayed for the encouragement
of countless observers, as in this little book, with its appeal to
enthusiasm, the greatest and most neglected of human qualities.

The brethren of sorrow to whom the message was addressed, scattered here
and there throughout the world, gave ear to the call. The book was not a
literary triumph; the newspapers were silent; the critics ignored it.
But unknown strangers won happiness from its pages; they passed it from
hand to hand; a mystical sense of gratitude for the first time formed a
bond of union among persons reverencing the name of Rolland. The unhappy
have an ear delicately attuned to the notes of consolation. While they
would have been repelled by a superficial optimism, they were receptive
to the passionate sympathy which they found in the pages of Rolland's
_Beethoven_. The book did not bring its author success; but it brought
something better, a public which henceforward paid close attention to
his work, and accompanied _Jean Christophe_ in the first steps toward
celebrity. Simultaneously, there was an improvement in the fortunes of
"_Les cahiers de la quinzaine_." The obscure periodical began to
circulate more freely. For the first time, a second edition was called
for. Charles Péguy describes in moving terms how the reissue of this
number solaced the last hours of Bernard Lazare. At length Romain
Rolland's idealism was beginning to come into its own.

Rolland is no longer lonely. Unseen brothers touch his hand in the dark,
eagerly await the sound of his voice. Only those who suffer, wish to
hear of suffering--but sufferers are many. To them he now wishes to make
known other figures, the figures of those who suffered no less keenly,
and were no less great in their conquest of suffering. From the distance
of the centuries, the mighty contemplate him. Reverently he draws near
to them and enters into their lives.



Beethoven is for Rolland the most typical of the controllers of sorrow.
Born to enjoy the fullness of life, it seemed to be his mission to
reveal its beauties. Then destiny, ruining the senseorgan of music,
incarcerated him in the prison of deafness. But his spirit discovered a
new language; in the darkness he made a great light, composing the Ode
to Joy whose strains he was unable to hear. Bodily affliction, however,
is but one of the many forms of suffering which the heroism of the will
can conquer. "Suffering is infinite, and displays itself in myriad ways.
Sometimes it arises from the blind things of tyranny, coming as poverty,
sickness, the injustice of fate, or the wickedness of men; sometimes its
deepest cause lies in the sufferer's own nature. This is no less
lamentable, no less disastrous; for we do not choose our own
dispositions, we have not asked for life as it is given us, we have not
wished to become what we are."

Such was the tragedy of Michelangelo. His trouble was not a sudden
stroke of misfortune in the flower of his days. The affliction was
inborn. From the first dawning of his consciousness, the worm of
discontent was gnawing at his heart, the worm which grew with his
growth throughout the eighty years of his life. All his feeling was
tinged with melancholy. Never do we hear from him, as we so often hear
from Beethoven, the golden call of joy. But his greatness lay in this,
that he bore his sorrows like a cross, a second Christ carrying the
burden of his destiny to the Golgotha of his daily work, eternally weary
of existence, and yet not weary of activity. Or we may compare him with
Sisyphus; but whereas Sisyphus for ever rolled the stone, it was
Michelangelo's fate, chiseling in rage and bitterness, to fashion the
patient stone into works of art. For Rolland, Michelangelo was the
genius of a great and vanished age; he was the Christian, unhappy but
patient, whereas Beethoven was the pagan, the great god Pan in the
forest of music. Michelangelo shares the blame for his own suffering,
the blame that attaches to weakness, the blame of those damned souls in
Dante's first circle "who voluntarily gave themselves up to sadness." We
must show him compassion as a man, but as we show compassion to one
mentally diseased, for he is the paradox of "a heroic genius with an
unheroic will." Beethoven is the hero as artist, and still more the hero
as man; Michelangelo is only the hero as artist. As man, Michelangelo is
the vanquished, unloved because he does not give himself up to love,
unsatisfied because he has no longing for joy. He is the saturnine man,
born under a gloomy star, one who does not struggle against melancholy,
but rather cherishes it, toying with his own depression. "La mia
allegrezza è la malincolia"--melancholy is my delight. He frankly
acknowledges that "a thousand joys are not worth as much as a single
sorrow." From the beginning to the end of his life he seems to be hewing
his way, cutting an interminable dark gallery leading towards the light.
This way is his greatness, leading us all nearer towards eternity.

Rolland feels that Michelangelo's life embraces a great heroism, but
cannot give direct consolation to those who suffer. In this case, the
one who lacks is not able to come to terms with destiny by his own
strength, for he needs a mediator beyond this life. He needs God, "the
refuge of all those who do not make a success of life here below! Faith
which is apt to be nothing other than lack of faith in life, in the
future, in oneself; a lack of courage; a lack of joy. We know upon how
many defeats this painful victory is upbuilded." Rolland here admires a
work, and a sublime melancholy; but he does so with sorrowful
compassion, and not with the intoxicating ardor inspired in him by the
triumph of Beethoven. Michelangelo is chosen merely as an example of the
amount of pain that may have to be endured in our mortal lot. His
example displays greatness, but greatness that conveys a warning. Who
conquers pain in producing such work, is in truth a victor. Yet only
half a victor; for it does not suffice to endure life. We must, this is
the highest heroism, "know life, and yet love it."



The biographies of Beethoven and Michelangelo were fashioned out of the
superabundance of life. They were calls to heroism, odes to energy. The
biography of Tolstoi, written some years later, is a requiem, a dirge.
Rolland had been near to death from the accident in the Champs Elysées.
On his recovery, the news of his beloved master's end came to him with
profound significance and as a sublime exhortation.

Tolstoi typifies for Rolland a third form of heroic suffering.
Beethoven's infirmity came as a stroke of fate in mid career.
Michelangelo's sad destiny was inborn. Tolstoi deliberately chose his
own lot. All the externals of happiness promised enjoyment. He was in
good health, rich, independent, famous; he had home, wife, and children.
But the heroism of the man without cares lies in this, that he makes
cares for himself, through doubt as to the best way to live. What
plagued Tolstoi was his conscience, his inexorable demand for truth. He
thrust aside the freedom from care, the low aims, the petty joys, of
insincere beings. Like a fakir, he pierced his own breast with the
thorns of doubt. Amid the torment, he blessed doubt, saying: "We must
thank God if we be discontented with ourselves. A cleavage between life
and the form in which it has to be lived, is the genuine sign of a true
life, the precondition of all that is good. The only bad thing is to be
contented with oneself."

For Rolland, this apparent cleavage is the true Tolstoi, just as for
Rolland the man who struggles is the only man truly alive. Whilst
Michelangelo believes himself to see a divine life above this human
life, Tolstoi sees a genuine life behind the casual life of everyday,
and to attain to the former he destroys the latter. The most celebrated
artist in Europe throws away his art, like a knight throwing away his
sword, to walk bare-headed along the penitent's path; he breaks family
ties; he undermines his days and his nights with fanatical questions.
Down to the last hour of his life he is at war with himself, as he seeks
to make peace with his conscience; he is a fighter for the invisible,
that invisible which means so much more than happiness, joy, and God; a
fighter for the ultimate truth which he can share with no one.

This heroic struggle is waged, like that of Beethoven and Michelangelo,
in terrible isolation, is waged like theirs in airless spaces. His wife,
his children, his friends, his enemies, all fail to understand him. They
consider him a Don Quixote, for they cannot see the opponent with whom
he wrestles, the opponent who is himself. None can bring him solace;
none can help him. Merely that he may die at peace, he has to flee from
his comfortable home on a bitter night in winter, to perish like a
beggar by the wayside. Always at this supreme altitude to which mankind
looks yearningly up, the atmosphere is ice-bound and lonely. Those who
create for all must do so in solitude, each one of them a savior nailed
to the cross, each suffering for a different faith; and yet suffering
every one of them for all mankind.



On the cover of the _Beethoven_, the first of Rolland's biographies, was
an announcement of the lives of a number of heroic personalities. There
was to be a life of Mazzini. With the aid of Malwida von Meysenbug, who
had known the great revolutionist, Rolland had been collecting relevant
documents for years. Among other biographies, there was to be one of
General Hoche; and one of the great utopist, Thomas Paine. The original
scheme embraced lives of many other spiritual heroes. Not a few of the
biographies had already been outlined in the author's mind. Above all,
in his riper years, Rolland designed at one time to give a picture of
the restful world in which Goethe moved; to pay a tribute of thanks to
Shakespeare; and to discharge the debt of friendship to one little known
to the world, Malwida von Meysenbug.

These "vies des hommes illustres" have remained unwritten. The only
biographical studies produced by Rolland during the ensuing years were
those of a more scientific character, dealing with Handel and Millet,
and the minor biographies of Hugo Wolf and Berlioz. Thus the third
grandly conceived creative cycle likewise remained a fragment. But on
this occasion the discontinuance of the work was not due to the disfavor
of circumstances or to the indifference of readers. The abandonment of
the scheme was the outcome of the author's own moral conviction. The
historian in him had come to recognize that his most intimate energy,
truth, was not reconcilable with the desire to create enthusiasm. In the
single instance of Beethoven it had been possible to preserve historical
accuracy and still to bring solace, for here the soul had been lifted
towards joy by the very spirit of music. In Michelangelo's case a
certain strain had been felt in the attempt to present as a conqueror of
the world this man who was a prey to inborn melancholy, who, working in
stone, was himself petrified to marble. Even Tolstoi was a herald rather
of true life, than of rich and enthralling life, life worth living.
When, finally, Rolland came to deal with Mazzini, he realized, as he
sympathetically studied the embitterment of the forgotten patriot in old
age, that it would either be necessary to falsify the record if
edification were to be derived from this biography, or else, by
recording the truth, to provide readers with further grounds for
depression. He recognized that there are truths which love for mankind
must lead us to conceal. Of a sudden he has personal experience of the
conflict, of the tragical dilemma, which Tolstoi had had to face. He
became aware of "the dissonance between his pitiless vision which
enabled him to see all the horror of reality, and his compassionate
heart which made him desire to veil these horrors and retain his
readers' affection. We have all experienced this tragical struggle. How
often has the artist been filled with distress when contemplating a
truth which he will have to describe. For this same healthy and virile
truth, which for some is as natural as the air they breathe, is
absolutely insupportable to others, who are weak through the tenor of
their lives or through simple kindliness. What are we to do? Are we to
suppress this deadly truth, or to utter it unsparingly? Continually does
the dilemma force itself upon us, Truth or Love?"

Such was the overwhelming experience which came upon Rolland in mid
career. It is impossible to write the history of great men, both as
historian recording truth, and as lover of mankind who desires to lead
his fellows upwards towards perfection. To Rolland, the enthusiast, the
historian's function now seemed the less important of the two. For what
is the truth about a man? "It is so difficult to describe a personality.
Every man is a riddle, not for others alone, but for himself likewise.
It is presumptuous to claim a knowledge of one who is not known even by
himself. Yet we cannot help passing judgments on character, for to do so
is a necessary part of life. Not one of those we believe ourselves to
know, not one of our friends, not one of those we love, is as we see
him. In many cases he is utterly different from our picture. We wander
amid the phantoms we create. Yet we have to judge; we have to act."

Justice to himself, justice to those whose names he honored, veneration
for the truth, compassion for his fellows--all these combined to arrest
his half-completed design. Rolland laid aside the heroic biographies. He
would rather be silent than surrender to that cowardly idealism which
touches up lest it should have to repudiate. He halted on a road which
he had recognized to be impassable, but he did not forget his aim "to
defend greatness on earth." Since these historic figures would not serve
the ends of his faith, his faith created a figure for itself. Since
history refused to supply him with the image of the consoler, he had
recourse to art, fashioning amid contemporary life the hero he desired,
creating out of truth and fiction his own and our own Jean Christophe.



     It is really astonishing to note how the epic and the philosophical
     are here compressed within the same work. In respect of form we
     have so beautiful a whole. Reaching outwards, the work touches the
     infinite, touches both art and life. In fact we may say of this
     romance, that it is in no respects limited except in point of
     æsthetic form, and that where it transcends form it comes into
     contact with the infinite. I might compare it to a beautiful island
     lying between two seas.


October 19, 1796.



Upon the last page of his great work, Rolland relates the well-known
legend of St. Christopher. The ferryman was roused at night by a little
boy who wished to be carried across the stream. With a smile the
good-natured giant shouldered the light burden. But as he strode through
the water the weight he was carrying grew heavy and heavier, until he
felt he was about to sink in the river. Mustering all his strength, he
continued on his way. When he reached the other shore, gasping for
breath, the man recognized that he had been carrying the entire meaning
of the world. Hence his name, Christophorus.

Rolland has known this long night of labor. When he assumed the fateful
burden, when he took the work upon his shoulders, he meant to recount
but a single life. As he proceeded, what had been light grew heavy. He
found that he was carrying the whole destiny of his generation, the
meaning of the entire world, the message of love, the primal secret of
creation. We who saw him making his way alone through the night, without
recognition, without helpers, without a word of cheer, without a
friendly light winking at him from the further shore, imagined that he
must succumb. From the hither bank the unbelievers followed him with
shouts of scornful laughter. But he pressed manfully forward during
these ten years, what time the stream of life swirled ever more fiercely
around him; and he fought his way in the end to the unknown shore of
completion. With bowed back, but with the radiance in his eyes undimmed,
did he finish fording the river. Long and heavy night of travail,
wherein he walked alone! Dear burden, which he carried for the sake of
those who are to come afterwards, bearing it from our shore to the still
untrodden shore of the new world. Now the crossing had been safely made.
When the good ferryman raised his eyes, the night seemed to be over, the
darkness vanished. Eastward the heaven was all aglow. Joyfully he
welcomed the dawn of the coming day towards which he had carried this
emblem of the day that was done.

Yet what was reddening there was naught but the bloody cloud-bank of
war, the flame of burning Europe, the flame that was to consume the
spirit of the elder world. Nothing remained of our sacred heritage
beyond this, that faith had bravely struggled from the shore of
yesterday to reach our again distracted world. The conflagration has
burned itself out; once more night has lowered. But our thanks speed
towards you, ferryman, pious wanderer, for the path you have trodden
through the darkness. We thank you for your labors, which have brought
the world a message of hope. For the sake of us all have you marched on
through the murky night. The flame of hatred will yet be extinguished;
the spirit of friendship will again unite people with people. It will
dawn, that new day.



Romain Rolland was now in his fortieth year. His life seemed to be a
field of ruins. The banners of his faith, the manifestoes to the French
people and to humanity, had been torn to rags by the storms of reality.
His dramas had been buried on a single evening. The figures of the
heroes, which were designed to form a stately series of historic
bronzes, stood neglected, three as isolated statues, while the others
were but rough-casts prematurely destroyed.

Yet the sacred flame still burned within him. With heroic determination
he threw the figures once more into the fiery crucible of his heart,
melting the metal that it might be recast in new forms. Since his
feeling for truth made it impossible for him to find the supreme
consoler in any actual historical figure, he resolved to create a genius
of the spirit, who should combine and typify what the great ones of all
times had suffered, a hero who should not belong to one nation but to
all peoples. No longer confining himself to historical truth, he looked
for a higher harmony in the new configuration of truth and fiction. He
fashioned the epic of an imaginary personality.

As if by miracle, all that he had lost was now regained. The vanished
fancies of his school days, the boy artist's dream of a great artist who
should stand erect against the world, the young man's vision on the
Janiculum, surged up anew. The figures of his dramas, Aërt and the
Girondists, arose in a fresh embodiment; the images of Beethoven,
Michelangelo, and Tolstoi, emerging from the rigidity of history, took
their places among our contemporaries. Rolland's disillusionments had
been but precious experiences; his trials, but a ladder to higher
things. What had seemed like an end became the true beginning, that of
his masterwork, _Jean Christophe_.



Jean Christophe had long been beckoning the poet from a distance. The
first message had come to the lad in the Normal School. During those
years, young Rolland had planned the writing of a romance, the history
of a single-hearted artist shattered on the rocks of the world. The
outlines were vague; the only definite idea was that the hero was to be
a musician whose contemporaries failed to understand him. The dream came
to nothing, like so many of the dreams of youth.

But the vision returned in Rome, when Rolland's poetic fervor, long pent
by the restrictions of school life, broke forth with elemental energy.
Malwida von Meysenbug had told him much concerning the tragical
struggles of her intimate friends Wagner and Nietzsche. Rolland came to
realize that heroic figures, though they may be obscured by the tumult
and dust of the hour, belong in truth to every age. Involuntarily he
learned to associate the unhappy experiences of these recent heroes with
those of the figures in his vision. In Parsifal, the guileless Fool, by
pity enlightened, he recognized an emblem of the artist whose intuition
guides him through the world, and who comes to know the world through
experience. One evening, as Rolland walked on the Janiculum, the vision
of Jean Christophe grew suddenly clear. His hero was to be a
pure-hearted musician, a German, visiting other lands, finding his god
in Life; a free mortal spirit, inspired with a faith in greatness, and
with faith even in mankind, though mankind rejected him.

The happy days of freedom in Rome were followed by many years of arduous
labor, during which the duties of daily life thrust the image into the
background. Rolland had for a season become a man of action, and had no
time for dreams. Then came new experiences to reawaken the slumbering
vision. I have told of his visit to Beethoven's house in Bonn, and of
the effect produced on his mind by the realization of the tragedy of the
great composer's life. This gave a new direction to his thoughts. His
hero was to be a Beethoven redivivus, a German, a lonely fighter, but a
conqueror. Whereas the immature youth had idealized defeat, imagining
that to fail was to be vanquished, the man of riper years perceived that
true heroism lay in this, "to know life, and yet to love it." Thus
splendidly did the new horizon open as setting for the long cherished
figure, the dawn of eternal victory in our earthly struggle. The
conception of Jean Christophe was complete.

Rolland now knew his hero. But it was necessary that he should learn to
describe that hero's counterpart, that hero's eternal enemy, life,
reality. Whoever wishes to delineate a combat fairly, must know both
champions. Rolland became intimately acquainted with Jean Christophe's
opponent through the experiences of these years of disillusionment,
through his study of literature, through his realization of the
falseness of society and of the indifference of the crowd. It was
necessary for him to pass through the purgatorial fires of the years in
Paris before he could begin the work of description. At twenty, Rolland
had made acquaintance only with himself, and was therefore competent to
describe no more than his own heroic will to purity. At thirty he had
become able to depict likewise the forces of resistance. All the hopes
he had cherished and all the disappointments he had suffered jostled one
another in the channel of this new existence. The innumerable newspaper
cuttings, collected for years, almost without a definite aim, magically
arranged themselves as material for the growing work. Personal griefs
were seen to have been valuable experience; the boy's dream swelled to
the proportions of a life history.

During the year 1895 the broad lines were finished. As prelude, Rolland
gave a few scenes from Jean Christophe's youth. During 1897, in a remote
Swiss hamlet, the first chapters were penned, those in which the music
begins as it were spontaneously. Then (so definitely was the whole
design now shaping itself in his mind) he wrote some of the chapters for
the fifth and ninth volumes. Like a musical composer, Rolland followed
up particular themes as his mood directed, themes which his artistry was
to weave harmoniously into the great symphony. Order came from within,
and was not imposed from without. The work was not done in any strictly
serial succession. The chapters seemed to come into being as chance
might direct. Often they were inspired by the landscape, and were
colored by outward events. Seippel, for instance, shows that Jean
Christophe's flight into the forest was suggested by the last journey of
Rolland's beloved teacher Tolstoi. With appropriate symbolism, this work
of European scope was composed in various parts of Europe; the opening
scenes, as we have said, in a Swiss hamlet; _L'adolescent_ in Zurich and
by the shores of Lake Zug; much in Paris; much in Italy; _Antoinette_ in
Oxford; while, after nearly fifteen years' labor, the work was completed
in Baveno.

In February, 1902, the first volume, _L'aube_, was published in "_Les
cahiers de la quinzaine_," and the last serial number was issued on
October 20, 1912. When the fifth serial issue, _La foire sur la place_,
appeared, a publisher, Ollendorff, was found willing to produce the
whole romance in book form. Before the French original was completed,
English, Spanish, and German translations were in course of publication,
and Seippel's valuable biography had also appeared. Thus when the work
was crowned by the Academy in 1913, its reputation was already
established. In the fifth decade of his life, Rolland had at length
become famous. His messenger Jean Christophe was a living contemporary
figure, on pilgrimage through the world.



What, then, is _Jean Christophe_? Can it be properly spoken of as a
romance? This book, which is as comprehensive as the world, an orbis
pictus of our generation, cannot be described by a single all-embracing
term. Rolland once said: "Any work which can be circumscribed by a
definition is a dead work." Most applicable to _Jean Christophe_ is the
refusal to permit so living a creation to be hidebound by the
restrictions of a name. _Jean Christophe_ is an attempt to create a
totality, to write a book that is universal and encyclopedic, not merely
narrative; a book which continually returns to the central problem of
the world-all. It combines insight into the soul with an outlook into
the age. It is the portrait of an entire generation, and simultaneously
it is the biography of an imaginary individual. Grautoff has termed it
"a cross-section of our society"; but it is likewise the religious
confession of its author. It is critical, but at the same time
productive; at once a criticism of reality, and a creative analysis of
the unconscious; it is a symphony in words, and a fresco of contemporary
ideas. It is an ode to solitude, and likewise an Eroica of the great
European fellowship. But whatever definition we attempt, can deal with a
part only, for the whole eludes definition. In the field of literary
endeavor, the nature of a moral or ethical act cannot be precisely
specified. Rolland's sculptural energies enable him to shape the inner
humanity of what he is describing; his idealism is a force that
strengthens faith, a tonic of vitality. His _Jean Christophe_ is an
attempt towards justice, an attempt to understand life. It is also an
attempt towards faith, an attempt to love life. These coalesce in his
moral demand (the only one he has ever formulated for the free human
being), "to know life, and yet to love it."

The essential aim of the book is explained by its hero when he refers to
the disparateness of contemporary life, to the manner in which its art
has been severed into a thousand fragments. "The Europe of to-day no
longer possesses a common book; it has no poem, no prayer, no act of
faith which is the common heritage of all. This lack is fatal to the art
of our time. There is no one who has written for all; no one who has
fought for all." Rolland hoped to remedy the evil. He wished to write
for all nations, and not for his fatherland alone. Not artists and men
of letters merely, but all who are eager to learn about life and about
their own age, were to be supplied with a picture of the environment in
which they were living. Jean Christophe gives expression to his
creator's will, saying: "Display everyday life to everyday people--the
life that is deeper and wider than the ocean. The least among us bears
infinity within him.... Describe the simple life of one of these simple
men; ... describe it simply, as it actually happens. Do not trouble
about phrasing; do not dissipate your energies, as do so many
contemporary writers, in straining for artistic effects. You wish to
speak to the many, and you must therefore speak their language.... Throw
yourself into what you create; think your own thoughts; feel your own
feelings. Let your heart set the rhythm to the words. Style is soul."

_Jean Christophe_ was designed to be, and actually is, a work of life,
and not a work of art; it was to be, and is, a book as comprehensive as
humanity; for "l'art est la vie domptée"; art is life broken in. The
book differs from the majority of the imaginative writings of our day in
that it does not make the erotic problem its central feature. But it has
no central feature. It attempts to comprehend all problems, all those
which are a part of reality, to contemplate them from within, "from the
spectrum of an individual" as Grautoff expresses it. The center is the
inner life of the individual human being. The primary motif of the
romance is to expound how this individual sees life, or rather, how he
learns to see it. The book may therefore be described as an educational
romance in the sense in which that term applies to _Wilhelm Meister_.
The educational romance aims at showing how, in years of apprenticeship
and years of travel, a human being makes acquaintance with the lives of
others, and thus acquires mastery over his own life; how experience
teaches him to transform into individual views the concepts he has had
transmitted to him by others, many of which are erroneous; how he
becomes enabled to transmute the world so that it ceases to be an
outward phenomenon and becomes an inward reality. The educational
romance traces the change from curiosity to knowledge, from emotional
prejudice to justice.

But this educational romance is simultaneously a historical romance, a
"comédie humaine" in Balzac's sense; an "histoire contemporaine" in
Anatole France's sense; and in many respects also it is a political
romance. But Rolland, with his more catholic method of treatment, does
not merely depict the history of his generation, but discusses the
cultural history of the age, exhibiting the radiations of the time
spirit, concerning himself with poesy and with socialism, with music and
with the fine arts, with the woman's question and with racial problems.
Jean Christophe the man is a whole man, and _Jean Christophe_ the book
embraces all that is human in the spiritual cosmos. This romance ignores
no questions; it seeks to overcome all obstacles; it has a universal
life, beyond the frontiers of nations, occupations, and creeds.

It is a romance of art, a romance of music, as well as a historical
romance. Its hero is not a saunterer through life, like the heroes of
Goethe, Novalis, and Stendhal, but a creator. As with Gottfried Keller's
_Der grüne Heinrich_, in this book the path through the externals of
life leads simultaneously to the inner world, to art, to completion. The
birth of music, the growth of genius, is individually and yet typically
presented. In his portrayal of experience, the author does not merely
aim at giving an analysis of the world; he desires also to expound the
mystery of creation, the primal secret of life.

Furthermore, the book furnishes an outlook on the universe, thus
becoming a philosophic, a religious romance. The struggle for the
totality of life, signifies for Rolland the struggle to understand its
significance and origin, the struggle for God, for one's own personal
God. The rhythm of the individual existence is in search of an ultimate
harmony between itself and the rhythm of the universal existence. From
this earthly sphere, the Idea flows back into the infinite in an
exultant canticle.

Such a wealth of design and execution was unprecedented. In one work
alone, Tolstoi's _War and Peace_, had Rolland encountered a similar
conjuncture of a historical picture of the world with a process of inner
purification and a state of religious ecstasy. Here only had he
discerned the like passionate sense of responsibility towards truth. But
Rolland diverged from this splendid example by placing his tragedy in
the temporal environment of the life of to-day, instead of amid the wars
of Napoleonic times; and by endowing his hero with the heroism, not of
arms, but of the invisible struggles which the artist is constrained to
fight. Here, as always, the most human of artists was his model, the man
to whom art was not an end in itself, but was ever subordinate to an
ethical purpose. In accordance with the spirit of Tolstoi's teaching,
_Jean Christophe_ was not to be a literary work, but a deed. For this
reason, Rolland's great symphony cannot be subjected to the
restrictions of a convenient formula. The book ignores all the ordinary
canons, and is none the less a characteristic product of its time.
Standing outside literature, it is an overwhelmingly powerful literary
manifestation. Often enough it ignores the rules of art, and is yet a
most perfect expression of art. It is not a book, but a message; it is
not a history, but is nevertheless a record of our time. More than a
book, it is the daily miracle of revelation of a man who lives the
truth, whose whole life is truth.



As a romance, _Jean Christophe_ has no prototype in literature; but the
characters in the book have prototypes in real life. Rolland the
historian does not hesitate to borrow some of the lineaments of his
heroes from the biographies of great men. In many cases, too, the
figures he portrays recall personalities in contemporary life. In a
manner peculiar to himself, by a process of which he was the originator,
he combines the imaginative with the historical, fusing individual
qualities in a new synthesis. His delineations tend to be mosaics,
rather than entirely new imaginative creations. In ultimate analysis,
his method of literary composition invariably recalls the work of a
musical composer; he paraphrases thematic reminiscences, without
imitating too closely. The reader of _Jean Christophe_ often fancies
that, as in a key-novel, he has recognized some public personality; but
ere long he finds that the characteristics of another figure intrude.
Thus each portrait is freshly constructed out of a hundred diverse

Jean Christophe seems at first to be Beethoven. Seippel has aptly
described _La vie de Beethoven_ as a preface to _Jean Christophe_. In
truth the opening volumes of the novel show us a Jean Christophe whose
image is modeled after that of the great master. But it becomes plain in
due course that we are being shown something more than one single
musician, that Jean Christophe is the quintessence of all great
musicians. The figures in the pantheon of musical history are presented
in a composite portrait; or, to use a musical analogy, Beethoven, the
master musician, is the root of the chord. Jean Christophe grew up in
the Rhineland, Beethoven's home; Jean Christophe, like Beethoven, had
Flemish blood in his veins; his mother, too, was of peasant origin, his
father a drunkard. Nevertheless, Jean Christophe exhibits numerous
traits proper to Friedemann Bach, son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Again,
the letter which young Beethoven redivivus is made to write to the grand
duke is modeled on the historical document; the episode of his
acquaintanceship with Frau von Kerich recalls Beethoven and Frau von
Breuning. But many incidents, like the scene in the castle, remind the
reader of Mozart's youth; and Mozart's little love episode with Rose
Cannabich is transferred to the life of Jean Christophe. The older Jean
Christophe grows, the less does his personality recall that of
Beethoven. In external characteristics he grows rather to resemble Gluck
and Handel. Of the latter, Rolland writes elsewhere that "his formidable
bluntness alarmed every one." Word for word we can apply to Jean
Christophe, Rolland's description of Handel: "He was independent and
irritable, and could never adapt himself to the conventions of social
life. He insisted on calling a spade a spade, and twenty times a day he
aroused annoyance in all who had to associate with him." The life
history of Wagner had much influence upon the delineation of Jean
Christophe. The rebellious flight to Paris, a flight originating, as
Nietzsche phrases it, "from the depths of instinct"; the hack-work done
for minor publishers; the sordid details of daily life--all these things
have been transposed almost verbatim into _Jean Christophe_ from
Wagner's autobiographical sketches _Ein deutscher Musiker in Paris_.

Ernst Decsey's life of Hugo Wolf was, however, decisive in its influence
upon the configuration of the leading character in Rolland's book, upon
the almost violent departure from the picture of Beethoven. Not merely
do we find individual incidents taken from Decsey's book, such as the
hatred for Brahms, the visit paid to Hassler (Wagner), the musical
criticism published in "_Dionysos_" ("_Wiener Salonblatt_"), the
tragi-comedy of the unsuccessful overture to _Penthesilea_, and the
memorable visit to Professor Schulz (Emil Kaufmann). Furthermore, Wolf's
whole character, his method of musical creation, is transplanted into
the soul of Jean Christophe. His primitive force of production, the
volcanic eruptions flooding the world with melody, shooting forth into
eternity four songs in the space of a day, with subsequent months of
inactivity, the brusque transition from the joyful activity of creation
to the gloomy brooding of inertia--this form of genius which was native
to Hugo Wolf becomes part of the tragical equipment of Jean Christophe.
Whereas his physical characteristics remind us of Handel, Beethoven, and
Gluck, his mental type is assimilated rather in its convulsive energy to
that of the great song-writer. With this difference, that to Jean
Christophe, in his more brilliant hours, there is superadded the
cheerful serenity, the childlike joy, of Schubert. He has a dual nature.
Jean Christophe is the classical type and the modern type of musician
combined into a single personality, so that he contains even many of the
characteristics of Gustav Mahler and César Frank. He is not an
individual musician, the figure of one living in a particular
generation; he is the sublimation of music as a whole.

Nevertheless, in Jean Christophe's life we find incidents deriving from
the adventures of those who were not musicians. From Goethe's _Wahrheit
und Dichtung_ comes the encounter with the French players; I have
already said that the story of Tolstoi's last days was represented in
Jean Christophe's flight into the forest (though in this latter case,
from the figure of a benighted traveler, Nietzsche's countenance glances
at us for a moment). Grazia typifies the well-beloved who never dies;
Antoinette is a picture of Renan's sister Henriette; Françoise Oudon,
the actress, recalls Eleanora Duse, but in certain respects she reminds
us of Suzanne Deprès. Emmanuel contains, in addition to traits that are
purely imaginary, lineaments that are drawn respectively from Charles
Louis Philippe and Charles Péguy; among the minor figures, lightly
sketched, we seem to see Debussy, Verhaeren, and Moreas. When _La foire
sur la place_ was published, the figures of Roussin the deputy,
Lévy-Coeur, the critic, Gamache the newspaper proprietor, and Hecht the
music seller, hurt the feelings of not a few persons against whom no
shafts had been aimed by Rolland. The portraits had been painted from
studies of the commonplace, and typified the incessantly recurring
mediocrities which are eternally real no less than are figures of
exquisite rarity.

One portrait, however, that of Olivier, would seem to have been purely
fictive. For this very reason, Olivier is felt to be the most living of
all the characters, precisely because we cannot but feel that in many
respects we have before us the artist's own picture, displaying not so
much the circumstantial destiny as the human essence of Romain Rolland.
Like the classical painters, he has, almost unmarked, introduced himself
slightly disguised amid the historical scenario. The description is that
of his own figure, slender, refined, slightly stooping; here we see his
own energy, inwardly directed, and consuming itself in idealism;
Rolland's enthusiasm is displayed in Olivier's lucid sense of justice,
in his resignation as far as his personal lot is concerned, though he
never resigns himself to the abandonment of his cause. It is true that
in the novel this gentle spirit, the pupil of Tolstoi and Renan, leaves
the field of action to his friend, and vanishes, the symbol of a past
world. But Jean Christophe was merely a dream, the longing for energy
sometimes felt by the man of gentle disposition. Olivier-Rolland limns
this dream of his youth, designing upon his literary canvas the picture
of his own life.



An abundance of figures and events, an impressive multiplicity of
contrasts, are united by a single element, music. In _Jean Christophe_,
music is the form as well as the content. For the sake of simplicity we
have to call the work a romance or a novel. But nowhere can it be said
to attach to the epic tradition of any previous writers of romance:
whether to that of Balzac, Zola, and Flaubert, who aimed at analyzing
society into its chemical elements; or to that of Goethe, Gottfried
Keller, and Stendhal, who sought to secure a crystallization of the
soul. Rolland is neither a narrator, nor what may be termed a poetical
romancer; he is a musician who weaves everything into harmony. In
ultimate analysis, _Jean Christophe_ is a symphony born out of the
spirit of music, just as in Nietzsche's view classical tragedy was born
out of that spirit; its laws are not those of the narrative, of the
lecture, but those of controlled emotion. Rolland is a musician, not an
epic poet.

Even qua narrator, Rolland does not possess what we term style. He does
not write a classical French; he has no stable architechtonic in his
sentences, no definite rhythm, no typical hue in his wording, no
diction peculiar to himself. His personality does not obtrude itself,
since he does not form the matter but is formed thereby. He possesses an
inspired power of adaptation to the rhythm of the events he is
describing, to the mood of the situation. The writer's mind acts as a
resonator. In the opening lines the tempo is set. Then the rhythm surges
on through the scene, carrying with it the episodes, which often seem
like individual brief poems each sustained by its own melody--songs and
airs which appear and pass, rapidly giving place to new movements. Some
of the preludes in _Jean Christophe_ are examples of pure song-craft,
delicate arabesques and capriccios, islands of tone amid the roaring
sea; then come other moods, gloomy ballads, nocturnes breathing
elemental energy and sadness. When Rolland's writing is the outcome of
musical inspiration, he shows himself one of the masters of language. At
times, however, he speaks to us as historian, as critical student of the
age. Then the splendor fades. Such historical and critical passages are
like the periods of cold recitative in musical drama, periods which are
requisite in order to give continuity to the story, and which thus
fulfill an intellectual need, however much our aroused feelings may make
us regret their interpolation. The ancient conflict between the musician
and the historian persists unreconciled in Rolland's work.

Only through the spirit of music can the architectonic of _Jean
Christophe_ be understood. However plastic the elaboration of the
characters, their effective force is displayed solely in so far as they
are thematically interwoven into the resounding tide of life's
modulations. The essential matter is always the rhythm which these
characters emit, and which issues most powerfully of all from Jean
Christophe, the master of music. The structure, the inner architectural
conception of the work, cannot be understood by those who merely
contemplate its obvious subdivision into ten volumes. This is dictated
by the exigencies of book production. The essential caesuras are those
between the lesser sections, each of which is written in a different
key. Only a trained musician, one familiar with the great symphonies,
can follow in detail the way in which the epic poem _Jean Christophe_ is
constructed as a symphony, an Eroica; only a musician can realize how in
this work the most comprehensive type of musical composition is
transposed into the world of speech.

Let the reader recall the chorale-like undertone, the booming note of
the Rhine. We seem to be listening to some primal energy, to the stream
of life in its roaring progress through eternity. A little melody rises
above the general roar. Jean Christophe, the child, has been born out of
the great music of the universe, to fuse in turn with the endless stream
of sound. The first figures make a dramatic entry; the mystical chorale
gradually subsides; the mortal drama of childhood begins. By degrees the
stage is filled with personalities, with melodies; voices answer the
lisping syllables of Jean Christophe; until, finally, the virile tones
of Jean Christophe and the gentler voice of Olivier come to dominate
the theme. Meanwhile, all the forms of life and music are unfolded in
concords and discords. Thus we have the tragical outbreaks of a
melancholy like that of Beethoven; fugues upon the themes of art;
vigorous dance scenes, as in _Le buisson ardent_; odes to the infinite
and songs to nature, pure like those of Schubert. Wonderful is the
interconnection of the whole, and marvelous is the way in which the tide
of sound ebbs once more. The dramatic tumult subsides; the last discords
are resolved into the great harmony. In the final scene, the opening
melody recurs, to the accompaniment of invisible choirs; the roaring
river flows out into the limitless sea.

Thus _Jean Christophe_, the Eroica, ends in a chorale to the infinite
powers of life, ends in the undying ocean of music. Rolland wished to
convey the notion of these eternal forces of life symbolically through
the imagery of the element which for us mortals brings us into closest
contact with the infinite; he wished to typify these forces in the art
which is timeless, which is free, which knows nothing of national
limitations, which is eternal. Thus music is at once the form and the
content of the work, "simultaneously its kernel and its shell," as
Goethe said of nature. Nature is ever the law of laws for art.



_Jean Christophe_ took the form of a book of life rather than that of a
romance of art, for Rolland does not make a specific distinction between
poietic types of men and those devoid of creative genius, but inclines
rather to see in the artist the most human among men. Just as for
Goethe, true life was identical with activity; so for Rolland, true life
is identical with production. One who shuts himself away, who has no
surplus being, who fails to radiate energy that shall flow beyond the
narrow limits of his individuality to become part of the vital energy of
the future, is doubtless still a human being, but is not genuinely
alive. There may occur a death of the soul before the death of the body,
just as there is a life that outlasts one's own life. The real boundary
across which we pass from life to extinction is not constituted by
physical death but the cessation of effective influence. Creation alone
is life. "There is only one delight, that of creation. Other joys are
but shadows, alien to the world though they hover over the world. Desire
is creative desire; for love, for genius, for action. One and all are
born out of ardor. It matters not whether we are creating in the sphere
of the body or in the sphere of the spirit. Ever, in creation, we are
seeking to escape from the prison of the body, to throw ourselves into
the storm of life, to be as gods. To create is to slay death."

Creation, therefore, is the meaning of life, its secret, its innermost
kernel. While Rolland almost always chooses an artist for his hero, he
does not make this choice in the arrogance of the romance writer who
likes to contrast the melancholy genius with the dull crowd. His aim is
to draw nearer to the primal problems of existence. In the work of art,
transcending time and space, the eternal miracle of generation out of
nothing (or out of the all) is made manifest to the senses, while
simultaneously its mystery is made plain to the intelligence. For
Rolland, artistic creation is the problem of problems precisely because
the artist is the most human of men. Everywhere Rolland threads his way
through the obscure labyrinth of creative work, that he may draw near to
the burning moment of spiritual receptivity, to the painful act of
giving birth. He watches Michelangelo shaping pain in stone; Beethoven
bursting forth in melody; Tolstoi listening to the heart-beat of doubt
in his own laden breast. To each, Jacob's angel is revealed in a
different form, but for all alike the ecstatic force of the divine
struggle continues to burn. Throughout the years, Rolland's sole
endeavor has been to discover this ultimate type of artist, this
primitive element of creation, much as Goethe was in search of the
archetypal plant. Rolland wishes to discover the essential creator, the
essential act of creation, for he knows that in this mystery are
comprised the root and the blossoms of the whole of life's enigma.

As historian he had depicted the birth of art in humanity. Now, as poet,
he was approaching the same problem in a different form, and was
endeavoring to depict the birth of art in one individual. In his
_Histoire de l'opéra avant Lully et Scarlatti_, and in his _Musiciens
d'autrefois_, he had shown how music, "blossoming throughout the ages,"
begins to form its buds; and how, grafted upon different racial stems
and upon different periods, it grows in new forms. But here begins the
mystery of creation. Every beginning is wrapped in obscurity; and since
the path of all mankind is symbolically indicated in each individual,
the mystery recurs in each individual's experience. Rolland is aware
that the intellect can never unravel this ultimate mystery. He does not
share the views of the monists, for whom creation has become trivialized
to a mechanical effect which they would explain by talking of primitive
gases and by similar verbiage. He knows that nature is modest, and that
in her secret hours of generation she would fain elude observation; he
knows that we are unable to watch her at work in those moments when
crystal is joining to crystal, and when flowers are springing out of the
buds. Nothing does she hide more jealously than her inmost magic,
everlasting procreation, the very secret of infinity.

Creation, therefore, the life of life, is for Rolland a mystic power,
far transcending human will and human intelligence. In every soul there
lives, side by side with the conscious individuality, a stranger as
guest. "Man's chief endeavor since he became man has been to build up
dams that shall control this inner sea by the powers of reason and
religion. But when a storm comes (and those most plenteously endowed are
peculiarly subject to such storms), the elemental powers are set free."
Hot waves flood the soul, streaming forth out of the unconscious; not
out of the will, but against the will; out of a super-will. This
"dualism of the soul and its daimon" cannot be overcome by the clear
light of reason. The energy of the creative spirit surges from the
depths of the blood, often from parents and remoter progenitors, not
entering through the doors and windows of the normal waking
consciousness, but permeating the whole being as atmospheric spirits may
be conceived to do. Of a sudden the artist is seized as by intoxication,
inspired by a will independent of the will, subjected to the power "of
the ineffable riddle of the world and of life," as Goethe terms the
daimonic. The divine breaks upon him like a hurricane; or opens before
him like an abyss, "dieu abime," into which he hurls himself
unreflectingly. In Rolland's sense, we must not say that the true artist
has his art, but that the art has the artist. Art is the hunter, the
artist is the quarry; art is the victor, whereas the artist is happy in
that he is again and again and forever the vanquished. Thus before
creation we must have the creator. Genius is predestined. At work in the
channels of the blood, while the senses still slumber, this power from
without prepares the great magic for the child. Wonderful is Rolland's
description of the way in which Jean Christophe's soul was already
filled with music before he had heard the first notes. The daimon is
there within the youthful breast, awaiting but a sign before stirring,
before making himself known to the kindred spirit within the dual soul.
When the boy, holding his grandfather's hand, enters the church and is
greeted by an outburst of music from the organ, the genius within
acclaims the work of the distant brother and the child is filled with
joy. Again, driving in a carriage, and listening to the melodious rhythm
of the horse's hoofs, his heart goes out in unconscious brotherhood to
the kindred element. Then comes one of the most beautiful passages in
the book, probably the most beautiful of those treating of music. The
little Jean Christophe clambers on to the music stool in front of the
black chest filled with magic, and for the first time thrusts his
fingers into the unending thicket of concords and discords, where each
note that he strikes seems to answer yes or no to the unconscious
questions of the stranger's voice within him. Soon he learns to produce
the tones he desires to hear. At first the airs had sought him out, but
now he can seek them out. His soul which, thirsting for music, has long
been eagerly drinking in its strains, now flows forth creatively over
the barriers into the world.

This inborn daimon in the artist grows with the child, ripens with the
man, and ages as the man grows old. Like a vampire it is nourished by
all the experiences of its host, drinking his joys and his sorrows,
gradually sucking up all the life into itself, so that for the creative
human being nothing more remains but the eternal thirst and the torment
of creation. In Rolland's sense the artist does not will to create, but
must create. For him, production is not (as Nordau and Nordau's
congeners fancy in their simplicity) a morbid outgrowth, an abnormality
of life, but the only true health; unproductivity is disease. Never has
the torment of the lack of inspiration been more splendidly described
than in _Jean Christophe_. The soul in such cases is like a parched land
under a torrid sun, and its need is worse than death. No breath of wind
brings coolness; everything withers; joy and energy fade; the will is
utterly relaxed. Suddenly comes a storm out of the swiftly overcast
heavens, the thunder of the burgeoning power, the lightning of
inspiration; the stream wells up from inexhaustible springs, carrying
the soul along with it in eternal desire; the artist has become the
whole world, has become God, the creator of all the elements. Whatever
he encounters, he sweeps along with him in his rush; "tout lui est
prétexte à sa fécondité intarissable"; everything is material for his
inexhaustible fertility. He transforms the whole of life into art; like
Jean Christophe he transforms his death into a symphony.

In order to grasp life in its entirety, Rolland has endeavored to
describe the profoundest mystery of life; to describe creation, the
origin of the all, the development of art in an artist. He has furnished
a vivid description of the tie between creation and life, which
weaklings are so eager to avoid. Jean Christophe is simultaneously the
working genius and the suffering man; he suffers through creation, and
creates through suffering. For the very reason that Rolland is himself a
creator, the imaginary figure of Jean Christophe, the artist, is
transcendently alive.



Art has many forms, but its highest form is always that which is most
intimately akin to nature in its laws and its manifestations. True
genius works elementally, works naturally, is wide as the world and
manifold as mankind. It creates out of its own abundance, not out of
weakness. Its perennial effect, therefore, is to create more strength,
to glorify nature, and to raise life above its temporal confines into

Jean Christophe is inspired with such genius. His name is symbolical.
Jean Christophe Krafft is himself energy (Kraft), the indefatigable
energy that springs from peasant ancestry. It is the energy which is
hurled into life like a projectile, the energy that forcibly overcomes
every obstacle. Now, as long as we identify the concept of life with
quiescent being, with inactive existence, with things as they are, this
force of nature must be ever at war with life. For Rolland, however,
life is not the quiescent, but the struggle against quiescence; it is
creation, poiesis, the eternal, upward and onward impulse against the
inertia of "the perpetual as-you-were." Among artists, one who is a
fighter, an innovator, must necessarily be such a genius. Around him
stand other artists engaged in comparatively peaceful activities, the
contemplators, the sage observers of that which is, the completers of
the extant, the imperturbable organizers of accomplished facts. They,
the heirs of the past, have repose; he, the precursor, has storm. It is
his lot to transform life into a work of art; he cannot enjoy life as a
work of art; first he must create life as he would have it, create its
form, its tradition, its ideal, its truth, its god. Nothing for him is
ready-made; he has eternally to begin. Life does not welcome him into a
warm house, where he can forthwith make himself at home. For him, life
is but plastic material for a new edifice, wherein those who come after
will live. Such a man, therefore, knows nothing of repose. "Work
unrestingly," says his god to him; "you must fight ceaselessly."
Obedient to the injunction, from boyhood to the day of his death he
follows this path, fighting without truce, the flaming sword of the will
in his hand. Often he grows weary, wondering whether struggle must
indeed be unending, asking himself with Job whether his days be not
"like the days of an hireling." But soon, shaking off lethargy, he
recognizes that "we cannot be truly alive while we continue to ask why
we live; we must live life for its own sake." He knows that labor is its
own reward. In an hour of illumination he sums up his destiny in the
splendid phrase: "I do not seek peace; I seek life."

But struggle implies the use of force. Despite his natural kindliness of
disposition, Jean Christophe is an apostle of force. We discern in him
something barbaric and elemental, the power of a storm or of a torrent
which, obeying not its own will but the unknown laws of nature, rushes
down from the heights into the lower levels of life. His outward aspect
is that of a fighter. He is tall and massive, almost uncouth, with large
hands and brawny arms. He has the sanguine temperament, and is liable to
outbursts of turbulent passion. His footfall is heavy; his gait is
awkward, though he knows nothing of fatigue. These characteristics
derive from the crude energy of his peasant forefathers on the maternal
side; their pristine strength gives him steadfastness in the most
arduous crises of existence. "Well is it with him who amid the mishaps
of life is sustained by the power of a sturdy stock, so that the feet of
father and grandfathers may carry forward the son when he grows weary,
so that the vigorous growth of more robust forebears may relift the
crushed soul." The power of resilence against the oppression of
existence is given by such physical energy. Still more helpful is Jean
Christophe's trust in the future, his healthy and unyielding optimism,
his invincible confidence in victory. "I have centuries to look forward
to," he cries exultantly in an hour of disillusionment. "Hail to life!
Hail to joy!" From the German race he inherits Siegfried's confidence in
success, and for this reason he is ever a fighter. He knows, "le génie
veut l'obstacle, l'obstacle fait le génie"--genius desires obstacles,
for obstacles create genius.

Force, however, is always wilful Young Jean Christophe, while his
energies have not yet been spiritually enlightened, have not yet been
ethically tamed, can see no one but himself. He is unjust towards
others, deaf and blind to remonstrance, indifferent as to whether his
actions may please or displease. Like a woodcutter, ax in hand, he
hastes stormfully through the forest, striking right and left, simply to
secure light and space for himself. He despises German art without
understanding it, and scorns French art without knowing anything about
it. He is endowed with "the marvelous impudence of opinionated youth";
that of the undergraduate who says, "the world did not exist till I
created it." His strength has its fling in contentiousness; for only
when struggling does he feel that he is himself, then only can he enjoy
his passion for life.

These struggles of Jean Christophe continue throughout the years, for
his maladroitness is no less conspicuous than his strength. He does not
understand his opponents. He is slow to learn the lessons of life; and
it is precisely because the lessons are learned so slowly, piece by
piece, each stage besprinkled with blood and watered with tears, that
the novel is so impressive and so full of help. Nothing comes easily to
him; no ripe fruit ever falls into his hands. He is simple like
Parsifal, naive, somewhat boisterous and provincial. Instead of rubbing
off his angularities upon the grindstones of social life, he bruises
himself by his clumsy movements. He is an intuitive genius, not a
psychologist; he foresees nothing, but must endure all things before he
can know. "He had not the hawklike glance of Frenchmen and Jews, who
discern the most trifling characteristics of all that they see. He
silently absorbed everything he came in contact with, as a sponge
absorbs. Not until days or hours had elapsed would he become fully aware
of what had now become a part of himself." Nothing was real to him so
long as it remained objective. To be of use, every experience must be,
as it were, digested and worked up into his blood. He could not exchange
ideas and concepts one for another as people exchange bank notes. After
prolonged nausea, he was able to free himself from all the conventional
lies and trivial notions which had been instilled into him in youth, and
was then at length enabled to absorb fresh nutriment. Before he could
know France, he had to strip away all her masks one after another;
before he could reach Grazia, "the well-beloved who never dies," he had
to make his way through less lofty adventures. Before he could discover
himself and before he could discover his god, he had to live the whole
of his life through. Not until he reaches the other shore does
Christophorus recognize that his burden has been a message.

He knows that "it is good to suffer when one is strong," and he
therefore loves to encounter hindrances. "Everything great is good, and
the extremity of pain borders on enfranchisement. The only thing that
crushes irremediably, the only thing that destroys the soul, is
mediocrity of pain and joy." He gradually learns to recognize his enemy,
his own impetuosity; he learns to be just; he begins to understand
himself and the world. The nature of passion becomes clear to him. He
realizes that the hostility he encounters is aimed, not at him
personally, but at the eternal powers goading him on; he learns to love
his enemies because they have helped him to find himself, and because
they march towards the same goal by other roads. The years of
apprenticeship have come to an end. As Schiller admirably puts it in the
above-quoted letter to Goethe: "Years of apprenticeship are a relative
concept. They imply their correlative, which is mastery. The idea of
mastery is presupposed to elucidate and ground the idea of
apprenticeship." Jean Christophe, in riper years, begins to see that
through all his transformations he has by degrees become more truly
himself. Preconceptions have been cast aside; he has been freed from
beliefs and illusions, freed from the prejudices of race and
nationality. He is free and yet pious, now that he grasps the meaning of
the path he has to tread. In the frank and noisy optimism of youth, he
had exclaimed, "What is life? A tragedy. Hurrah!" Now, "transfiguré par
la foi," this optimism has been transformed into a gentle, all-embracing
wisdom. His freethinker's confessions runs: "To serve God and to love
God, signifies to serve life and to love life." He hears the footsteps
of coming generations. Even in those who are hostile to him he salutes
the undying spirit of life. He sees his fame growing like a great
cathedral, and feels it be to something remote from himself. He who was
an aimless stormer, is now a leader; but his own goal does not become
clear to him until the sonorous waves of death encompass him, and he
floats away into the vast ocean of music, into eternal peace.

What makes Jean Christophe's struggle supremely heroic is that he
aspires solely towards the greatest, towards life as a whole. This
striving man has to upbuild everything for himself; his art, his
freedom, his faith, his God, his truth. He has to fight himself free
from everything which others have taught him; from all the fellowships
of art, nationality, race, and creed. His ardor never wrestles for any
personal end, for success or for pleasure. "Il n'y a aucun rapport entre
la passion et le plaisir." Jean Christophe's loneliness makes this
struggle tragical. It is not on his own behalf that he troubles to
attain to truth, for he knows that every man has his own truth. When,
nevertheless, he becomes a helper of mankind, this is not by words, but
by his own essential nature, which exercises a marvelously harmonizing
influence in virtue of his vigorous goodness. Whoever comes into contact
with him--the imaginary personalities in the book, and no less the real
human beings who read the book--is the better for having known him. The
power through which he conquers is that of the life which we all share.
And inasmuch as we love him, we grow enabled to cherish an ardent love
for the world of mankind.



Jean Christophe is the portrait of an artist. But every form and every
formula of art and the artist must necessarily be one-sided. Rolland,
therefore, introduces to Christophe in mid career, "nel mezzo del
cammin," a counterpart, a Frenchman as foil to the German, a hero of
thought as contrast to the hero of action. Jean Christophe and Olivier
are complementary figures, attracting one another in virtue of the law
of polarity. "They were very different each from the other, and they
loved one another on account of this difference, being of the same
species"--the noblest. Olivier is the essence of spiritual France, just
as Jean Christophe is the offspring of the best energies of Germany;
they are ideals, alike fashioned in the form of the highest ideal;
alternating like major and minor, they transpose the theme of art and
life into the most wonderful variations.

In externals the contrast between them is marked, both in respect of
physical characteristics and social origins. Olivier is slightly built,
pale and delicate. Whereas Jean Christophe springs from working folk,
Olivier derives from an old and somewhat effete bourgeois stock, and
despite all his ardor he has an aristocratic aloofness from vulgar
things. His vitality does not come like that of his robust comrade from
excess of bodily energy, from muscles and blood, but from nerves and
brain, from will and passion. He is receptive rather than productive.
"He was ivy, a gentle soul which must always love and be loved." Art is
for him a refuge from reality, whereas Jean Christophe flings himself
upon art to find in it life many times multiplied. In Schiller's sense
of the terms, Olivier is the sentimental artist, whilst his German
brother is the naive genius. Olivier represents the beauty of a
civilization; he is symbolic of "la vaste culture et le génie
psychologique de la France"; Jean Christophe is the very luxuriance of
nature. The Frenchman represents contemplation; the German, action. The
former reflects by many facets; the latter has the genius which shines
by its own light. Olivier "transfers to the sphere of thought all the
energies that he has drawn from action," producing ideas where
Christophe radiates vitality, and wishing to improve, not the world, but
himself. It suffices him to fight out within himself the eternal
struggle of responsibility. He contemplates unmoved the play of secular
forces, looking on with the skeptical smile of his teacher Renan, as one
who knows in advance that the perpetual return of evil is inevitable,
that nothing can avert the eternal victory of injustice and wrong. His
love, therefore, goes out to humanity, the abstract idea, and not to
actual men, the unsatisfactory realizations of that idea.

At first we incline to regard him as a weakling, as timid and inactive.
Such is the view taken at the outset by his forceful friend, who says
almost angrily: "Are you incapable of feeling hatred?" Olivier answers
with a smile: "I hate hatred. It is repulsive to me that I should
struggle with people whom I despise." He does not enter into treaties
with reality; his strength lies in isolation. No defeat can daunt him,
and no victory can persuade him: he knows that force rules the world,
but he refuses to recognize the victor. Jean Christophe, fired by
Teutonic pagan wrath, rushes at obstacles and stamps them underfoot;
Olivier knows that next day the weeds that have been trodden to the
earth will spring up again. He does not love struggle for its own sake.
When he avoids struggle, this is not because he fears defeat, but
because victory is indifferent to him. A freethinker, he is in truth
animated by the spirit of Christianity. "I should run the risk of
disturbing my soul's peace, which is more precious to me than any
victory. I refuse to hate. I desire to be just even to my enemies. Amid
the storms of passion I wish to retain clarity of vision, that I may
understand everything and love everything."

Jean Christophe soon comes to recognize that Olivier is his spiritual
brother, learning that the heroism of thought is just as great as the
heroism of action, that his friend's idealistic anarchism is no less
courageous than his own primitive revolt. In this apparent weakling, he
venerates a soul of steel. Nothing can shake Olivier, nothing can
confuse his serene intelligence. Superior force is no argument against
him. "He had an independence of judgment which nothing could overcome.
When he loved anything, he loved it in defiance of the world." Justice
is the only pole towards which the needle of his will points unerringly;
justice is his sole form of fanaticism. Like Aërt, his weaker prototype,
he has "la faim de justice." Every injustice, even the injustices of a
remote past, seem to him a disturbance of the world order. He belongs,
therefore, to no party; he is unfailingly the advocate on behalf of all
the unhappy and all the oppressed; his place is ever "with the
vanquished"; he does not wish to help the masses socially, but to help
individual souls, whereas Jean Christophe desires to conquer for all
mankind every paradise of art and freedom. For Olivier there is but one
true freedom, that which comes from within, the freedom which a man must
win for himself. The illusion of the crowd, its eternal class struggles
and national struggles for power, distress him, but do not arouse his
sympathy. Standing quite alone, he maintains his mental poise when war
between Germany and France is imminent, when all are shaken in their
convictions, and when even Jean Christophe feels that he must return
home to fight for his fatherland. "I love my country," says the
Frenchman to his German brother. "I love it just as you love yours. But
am I for this reason to betray my conscience, to kill my soul? This
would signify the betrayal of my country. I belong to the army of the
spirit, not to the army of force." But brute force takes its revenge
upon the man who despises force, and he is killed in a chance medley.
Only his ideals, which were his true life, survive him, to renew for
those of a later generation the mystic idealism of his faith.

Marvelously delineated is the answer made by the advocate of mental
force to the advocate of physical force, by the genius of the spirit to
the genius of action. The two heroes are profoundly united in their love
for art, in their passion for freedom, in their need for spiritual
purity. Each is "pious and free" in his own sense; they are brothers in
that ultimate domain which Rolland finely terms "the music of the
soul"--in goodness. But Jean Christophe's goodness is that of instinct;
it is elemental, therefore, and liable to be interrupted by passionate
relapses into hate. Olivier's goodness, on the other hand, is
intellectual and wise, and is tinged merely at times by ironical
skepticism. But it is this contrast between them, it is the fact that
their aspirations towards goodness are complementary, which draws them
together. Christophe's robust faith revives joy in life for the lonely
Olivier. Christophe, in turn, learns justice from Olivier. The sage is
uplifted by the strong, who is himself enlightened by the sage's
clarity. This mutual exchange of benefits symbolizes the relationship
between their nations. The friendship between the two individuals is
designed to be the prototype of a spiritual alliance between the brother
peoples. France and Germany are "the two pinions of the west." The
European spirit is to soar freely above the blood-drenched fields of the



Jean Christophe is creative action; Olivier is creative thought; a third
form is requisite to complete the cycle of existence, that of Grazia,
creative being, who secures fulfillment merely through her beauty and
refulgence. In her case likewise the name is symbolic. Jean Christophe
Krafft, the embodiment of virile energy, reëncounters, comparatively
late in life, Grazia, who now embodies the calm beauty of womanhood.
Thus his impetuous spirit is helped to realize the final harmony.

Hitherto, in his long march towards peace, Jean Christophe has
encountered only fellow-soldiers and enemies. In Grazia he comes for the
first time into contact with a human being who is free from nervous
tension, with one characterized by that serene concord which in his
music he has unconsciously been seeking for many years. Grazia is not a
flaming personality from whom he himself catches fire. The warmth of her
senses has long ere this been cooled, through a certain weariness of
life, a gentle inertia. But in her, too, sounds that "music of the
soul"; she too is inspired with that goodness which is needed to attract
Jean Christophe's liking. She does not incite him to further action.
Already, owing to the many stresses of his life, the hair on his temples
has been whitened. She leads him to repose, shows him "the smile of the
Italian skies," where his unrest, tending as ever to recur, vanishes at
length like a cloud in the evening air. The untamed amativeness which in
the past has convulsed his whole being, the need for love which has
flamed up with elemental force in _Le buisson ardent_, threatening to
destroy his very existence, is clarified here to become the
"suprasensual marriage" with Grazia, "the well-beloved who never dies."
Through Olivier, Jean Christophe is made lucid; through Grazia, he is
made gentle. Olivier reconciled him with the world; Grazia, with
himself. Olivier had been Virgil, guiding him through purgatorial fires;
Grazia is Beatrice, pointing towards the heaven of the great harmony.
Never was there a nobler symbolization of the European triad; the
restrained fierceness of Germany; the clarity of France; the gentle
beauty of the Italian spirit. Jean Christophe's life melody is resolved
in this triad; he has now been granted the citizenship of the world, is
at home in all feelings, lands, and tongues, and can face death in the
ultimate unity of life.

Grazia, "la linda" (the limpid), is one of the most tranquil figures in
the book. We seem barely aware of her passage through the agitated
worlds, but her soft Mona Lisa smile streams like a beam of light
athwart the animated space. Had she been absent, there would have been
lacking to the work and to the man the magic of "the eternal feminine,"
the solution of the ultimate riddle. When she vanishes, her radiance
still lingers, filling this book of exuberance and struggle with a soft
lyrical melancholy, and transfusing it with a new beauty, that of



Notwithstanding the intimate relationships described in the previous
chapters, the path of Jean Christophe the artist is a lonely one. He
walks by himself, pursuing an isolated course that leads deeper and
deeper into the labyrinth of his own being. The blood of his fathers
drives him along, out of an infinite of confused origins, towards that
other infinite of creation. Those whom he encounters in his life's
journey are no more than shadows and intimations, milestones of
experience, steps of ascent and descent, episodes and adventures. But
what is knowledge other than a sum of experiences; what is life beyond a
sum of encounters? Other human beings are not Jean Christophe's destiny,
but they are material for his creative work. They are elements of the
infinite, to which he feels himself akin. Since he wishes to live life
as a whole, he must accept the bitterest part of life, mankind.

All he meets are a help to him. His friends help him much; but his
enemies help him still more, increasing his vitality and stimulating his
energy. Thus even those who wish to hinder his work, further it; and
what is the true artist other than the work upon which he is engaged?
In the great symphony of his passion, his fellow beings are high and low
voices inextricably interwoven into the swelling rhythm. Many an
individual theme he dismisses after a while with indifference, but many
another he pursues to the end. Into his childhood's days comes
Gottfried, the kindly old man, deriving more or less from the spirit of
Tolstoi. He appears quite incidentally, never for more than a night,
shouldering his pack, the undying Ahasuerus, but cheerful and kindly,
never mutinous, never complaining, bowed but splendidly unflinching, as
he wends his way Godward. Only in passing does he touch Christophe's
life, but this transient contact suffices to set the creative spirit in
movement. Consider, again, Hassler, the composer. His face flashes upon
Jean Christophe, a lightning glimpse, at the beginning of the young
man's work; but, in this instant, Jean Christophe recognizes the danger
that he may come to resemble Hassler through indolence, and he collects
his forces. Intimations, appeals, signs--such are other men to him.
Every one acts as a stimulus, some through love, some through hatred.
Old Schulz, with sympathetic understanding, helps him in a moment of
despair. The family pride of Frau von Kerich and the stupidity of the
Gothamites drive him anew to despair, which culminates this time in
flight, and thus proves his salvation. Poison and antidote have a
terrible resemblance. But to his creative spirit nothing is unmeaning,
for he stamps his own significance upon all, sweeping into the current
of his life the very things which were imposing themselves as hindrances
to the stream. Suffering is needful to him for the knowledge it brings.
He draws his best forces out of sadness, out of the shocks of life.
Designedly does Rolland make Jean Christophe conceive the most beautiful
of his imaginative works during the times of his profoundest spiritual
distresses, during the days after the death of Olivier, and during those
which followed the departure of Grazia. Opposition and affliction, the
foes of the ordinary man, are friends to the artist, just as much as is
every experience in his career. Precisely for his profoundest creative
solitude, he requires the influences which emanate from his fellows.

It is true that he takes long to learn this lesson, judging men falsely
at first because he sees them temperamently, not knowledgeably. To begin
with, Jean Christophe colors all human beings with his own overflowing
enthusiasm, fancying them to be as upright and good-natured as he is
himself, to speak no less frankly and spontaneously than he himself
speaks. Then, after the first disillusionments, his views are falsified
in the opposite direction by bitterness and mistrust. But gradually he
learns to hold just measure between overvaluation and its opposite.
Helped towards justice by Olivier, guided to gentleness by Grazia,
gathering experience from life, he comes to understand, not himself
alone, but his foes likewise. Almost at the end of the book we find a
little scene which may seem at first sight insignificant. Jean
Christophe comes across his sometime enemy, Lévy-Coeur, and
spontaneously offers his hand. This reconciliation implies something
more than transient sympathy. It expresses the meaning of the long
pilgrimage. It leads us to his last confession, which runs as follows,
with a slight alteration from his old description of true heroism: "To
know men, and yet to love them."



Young Headstrong, looking upon his fellow men with passion and
prejudice, fails to understand their natures; at first he contemplates
the families of mankind, the nations, with like passion and prejudice.
It is a part of our inevitable destiny that to begin with, and for many
of us throughout life, we know our own land from within only, foreign
lands only from without. Not until we have learned to see our own
country from without, and to understand foreign countries from within as
the natives of these countries understand them, can we acquire a
European outlook, can we realize that these various countries are
complementary parts of a single whole. Jean Christophe fights for life
in its entirety. For this reason he must pursue the path by which the
nationalist becomes a citizen of the world and acquires a "European

As must happen, Jean Christophe begins with prejudice. At first he
overvalues France. Ideas have been impressed upon his mind concerning
the artistic, cheerful, liberal-spirited French, and he regards his own
Germany as a land full of restriction. His first sight of Paris brings
disillusionment; he can see nothing but lies, clamor, and cheating. By
degrees, however, he discovers that the soul of a nation is not an
obvious and superficial thing, like a paving-stone in the street, but
that the observer of a foreign people must dig his way to that soul
through a thick stratum of illusion and falsehood. Ere long he weans
himself of the habit which leads people to talk of the French, the
Italians, the Jews, the Germans, as if members of these respective
nations or races were all of a piece, to be classified and docketed in
so simple a fashion. Each people has its own measure, its own form,
customs, failings, and lies; just as each has its own climate, history,
skies, and race; and these things cannot be easily summarized in a
phrase or two. As with all experience, our experiences of a country must
be built up from within. With words alone we can build nothing but a
house of cards. "Truth is the same to all nations, but each nation has
its own lies which it speaks of as its idealism. Every member of each
nation inhales the appropriate atmosphere of lying idealism from the
cradle to the grave, until it becomes the very breath of his life. None
but isolated geniuses can free themselves by heroic struggle, during
which they stand alone in the free universe of their own thought." We
must free ourselves from prejudice if we are to judge freely. There is
no other formula; there are no other psychological prescriptions. As
with all creative work, we must permeate the material with which we have
to deal, must yield ourselves without reserve. In the case of nations as
in the case of individual men, he who would know them will find that
there is but one science, that of the heart and not of books.

Nothing but such mutual understanding passing from soul to soul can weld
the nations together. What keeps them asunder is misunderstanding, the
way those of each nation hold their own beliefs to be the only right
ones, look upon their own natures as the only good ones. The mischief
lies in the arrogance of persons who believe that all others are wrong.
Nation is estranged from nation by the collective conceit of the members
of each nation, by the "great European plague of national pride" which
Nietzsche termed "the malady of the century." They stand like trees in a
forest, each stem priding itself on its isolation, though the roots
interlace underground and the summits touch overhead. The common people,
the proletariat, living in the depths, universally human in its
feelings, know naught of national contrasts. Jean Christophe, making the
acquaintance of Sidonie, the Breton maidservant, recognizes with
astonishment "how closely she resembles respectable folk in Germany."
Look again at the summits, at the elite. Olivier and Grazia have long
been living in that lofty sphere known to Goethe "in which we feel the
fate of foreign nations just as we feel our own." Fellowship is a truth;
mutual hatred is a falsehood; justice is the only real tie linking men
and linking nations. "All of us, all nations, are debtors one to
another. Let us, then, pay our debts and do our duty together." Jean
Christophe has suffered at the hands of every nation, and has received
gifts from every nation; disillusioned by all, he has also been
benefited by all. To the citizen of the world, at the end of his
pilgrimage, all nations are alike. In each his soul can make itself at
home. The musician in him dreams of a sublime work, of the great
European symphony, wherein the voices of the peoples, resolving
discords, will rise in the last and highest harmony, the harmony of



The picture of France in the great romance is notable because we are
here shown a country from a twofold outlook, from without and from
within, from the perspective of a German and with the eyes of a
Frenchman. It is likewise notable because Christophe's judgment is not
merely that of one who sees, but that of one who learns in seeing.

In every respect, the German's thought process is intentionally
presented in a typical form. In his little native town he had never
known a Frenchman. His feelings towards the French, of whom he had no
concrete experience whatever, took the form of a genial, but somewhat
contemptuous, sympathy. "The French are good fellows, but rather a slack
lot," would seem to sum up his German prejudice. They are a nation of
spineless artists, bad soldiers, corrupt politicians, women of easy
virtue; but they are clever, amusing, and liberal-minded. Amid the order
and sobriety of German life, he feels a certain yearning towards the
democratic freedom of France. His first encounter with a French actress,
Corinne, akin to Goethe's Philine, seems to confirm this facile
judgment; but soon, when he meets Antoinette, he comes to realize the
existence of another France. "You are so serious," he says with
astonishment to the demure, tongue-tied girl, who in this foreign land
is hard at work as a teacher in a pretentious, parvenu household. Her
characteristics are not in keeping with his traditional prejudices. A
Frenchwoman ought to be trivial, saucy, and wanton. For the first time
France presents to him "the riddle of its twofold nature." This initial
appeal from the distance exercises a mysterious lure. He begins to
realize the infinite multiplicity of these foreign worlds. Like Gluck,
Wagner, Meyerbeer, and Offenbach, he takes refuge from the narrowness of
German provincial life, and flees to Paris, the fabled home of universal

His feeling on arrival is one of disorder, and this impression never
leaves him. The first and last impression, the strongest impression, to
which the German in him continually returns, is that powerful energies
are being squandered through lack of discipline. His first guide in the
fair is one of those spurious "real Parisians," one of the immigrants
who are more Parisian in their manners than those who are Parisian by
birth, a Jew of German extraction named Sylvain Kohn, who here passes by
the name of Hamilton, and in whose hands all the threads of the trade in
art are centered. He shows Jean Christophe the painters, the musicians,
the politicians, the journalists; and Jean Christophe turns away
disheartened. It seems to him that all their works exhale an unpleasant
"odor femininus," an oppressive atmosphere laden with scent. He sees
praises showered upon second-rate persons, hears a clamor of
appreciation, without discovering a single genuine work of art. There is
indeed art of a kind amid the medley, but it is over-refined and
decadent; the work of taste and not of power; lacking integration
through excess of irony; an Alexandrian-Greek literature and music; the
breath of a moribund nation; the hothouse blossom of a perishing
civilization. He sees an end, but no beginning. The German in him
already hears "the rumbling of the cannon" which will destroy this
enfeebled Greece.

He learns to know good men and bad; many of them are vain and stupid,
dull and soulless; not one does he meet, in his experience of social
life in Paris, who gives him confidence in France. The first messenger
comes from a distance; this is Sidonie, the peasant girl who tends him
during his illness. He learns, all at once, how calm and inviolable, how
fertile and strong, is the earth, the humus, out of which the Parisian
exotics suck their energies. He becomes acquainted with the people, the
robust and serious-minded French people, which tills the land, caring
naught for the noise of the great fair, the people which has made
revolutions with the might of its wrath and has waged the Napoleonic
wars with its enthusiasm. From this moment he feels there must be a real
France still unknown to him. In conversation with Sylvain Kohn, he asks,
"Where can I find France?" Kohn answers grandiloquently, "We are
France!" Jean Christophe smiles bitterly, knowing well that he will have
a long search. Those among whom he is now moving have hidden France.

At length comes the rencounter which is a turning-point in his fate; he
meets Olivier, Antoinette's brother, the true Frenchman. Just as Dante,
guided by Virgil, wanders through new and ever new circles of knowledge,
so Jean Christophe, led by Olivier, learns with astonishment that behind
this veil of noise, behind this clamorous façade, an elite is quietly
laboring. He sees the work of persons whose names are never printed in
the newspapers; sees the people, those who, remote from the hurly-burly,
tranquilly pursue their daily round. He learns to know the new idealism
of the France whose soul has been strengthened by defeat. At first this
discovery fills him with rage. "I cannot understand you all," he cries
to the gentle Olivier. "You live in the most beautiful of countries, are
marvelously gifted, are endowed with the highest human sensibilities,
and yet you fail to turn these advantages to account. You allow
yourselves to be dominated and to be trampled upon by a handful of
rascals. Rouse yourselves; get together; sweep your house clean!" The
first and most natural thought of the German is for organization, for
the drawing together of the good elements; the first thought of the
strong man is to fight. Yet the best in France insist on holding aloof,
some of them content with a mysterious clarity of vision, and others
giving themselves up to a facile resignation. With that tincture of
pessimism in their sagacity to which Renan has given such lucid
expression, they shrink from the struggle. Action is uncongenial to
them, and the hardest thing of all is to combine them for joint action.
"They are over cautious, and visualize defeat before the battle
begins." Lacking the optimism of the Germans, they remain isolated
individuals, some from prudence, others from pride. They seem to be
affected with a spirit of exclusiveness, the operation of which Jean
Christophe is able to study in his own dwelling. On each story there
live excellent persons who could combine well, but they will have
nothing to do with one another. For twenty years they pass on the
staircase without becoming acquainted, without the least concern about
one another's lives. Thus the best among the artists remain strangers.

Jean Christophe suddenly comes to realize with all its merits and
defects the essential characteristic of the French people, the desire
for liberty. Each one wishes to be free for himself, free from ties.
They waste enormous quantities of energy because each tries to wage the
time struggle unaided, because they will not permit themselves to be
organized, because they refuse to pull together in harness. Although
their activities are thus paralyzed by their reason, their minds
nevertheless remain free. Consequently they are enabled to permeate
every revolutionary movement with the religious fervor of the solitary,
and they can perpetually renew their own revolutionary faith. These
things are their salvation, preserving them from an order which would be
unduly rigid, from a mechanical system which would impose excessive
uniformity. Jean Christophe at length understands that the noisy fair
exists only to attract the unthinking, and to preserve a creative
solitude for the really active spirits. He sees that for the French
temperament this clamor is indispensable, is a means by which the
French fire one another to labor; he sees that the apparent
inconsequence of their thoughts is a rhythmical form of continuous
renewal. His first impression, like that of so many Germans, had been
that the French are effete. But after twenty years he realizes that in
truth they are always ready for new beginnings, that amid the apparent
contradictions of their spirit a hidden order reigns, a different order
from that known to the Germans, just as their freedom is a different
freedom. The citizen of the world, who no longer desires to impose upon
any other nation the characteristics of his own, now contemplates with
delight the eternal diversity of the races. As the light of the world is
composed of the seven colors of the spectrum, so from this racial
diversity arises that wonderful multiplicity in unity, the fellowship of
all mankind.



In this romance, Germany likewise is viewed in a twofold aspect; but
whereas France is seen first from without, with the eyes of a German,
and then from within, with the eyes of a Frenchman, Germany is first
viewed from within and then regarded from abroad. Moreover, just as
happened in the case of France, two worlds are imperceptibly
superimposed one upon the other; a clamant civilization and a silent
one, a false culture and a true. We see respectively the old Germany,
which sought its heroism in the things of the spirit, discovered its
profundity in truth; and the new Germany, intoxicated with its own
strength, grasping at the powers of the reason which as a philosophical
discipline had transformed the world, and perverting them to the uses of
business efficiency. It is not suggested that German idealism had become
extinct; that there no longer existed the belief in a purer and more
beautiful world freed from the compromises of our earthly lot. The
trouble rather was that this idealism had been too widely diffused, had
been generalized until it had grown thin and superficial. The German
faith in God, turning practical, and now directed towards mundane ends,
had been transformed into grandiose ideas of the national future. In
art, it had been sentimentalized. In its new manifestations, it was
signally displayed in the cheap optimism of Emperor William. The defeat
which had spiritualized French idealism, had, from the German side, as a
victory, materialized German idealism. "What has victorious Germany
given to the world?" asks Jean Christophe. He answers his own question
by saying: "The flashing of bayonets; vigor without magnanimity; brutal
realism; force conjoined with greed for profit; Mars as commercial
traveler." He is grieved to recognize that Germany has been harmed by
victory. He suffers; for "one expects more of one's own country than of
another, and is hurt more by the faults of one's own land." Ever the
revolutionist, Christophe detests noisy self-assertion, militarist
arrogance, the churlishness of caste feeling. In his conflict with
militarized Germany, in his quarrel with the sergeant at the dance in
the Alsatian village inn, we have an elemental eruption of the hatred
for discipline felt by the artist, the lover of freedom; we have his
protest against the brutalization of thought. He is compelled to shake
the dust of Germany off his feet.

When he reaches France, however, he begins to realize Germany's
greatness. "In a foreign environment his judgment was freed"; this
statement applies to him as to all of us. Amid the disorder of France he
learned to value the active orderliness of Germany; the skeptical
resignation of the French made him esteem the vigorous optimism of the
Germans; he was impressed by the contrast between a witty nation and a
thoughtful one. Yet he was under no illusions about the optimism of the
new Germany, perceiving that it is often spurious. He became aware that
the idealism often took the form of idealizing a dictatorial will. Even
in the great masters, he saw, to quote Goethe's wonderful phrase, "how
readily in the Germans the ideal waxes sentimental." His passionate
sincerity, grown pitiless in the atmosphere of French clarity, revolts
against this hazy idealism, which compromises between truth and desire,
which justifies abuses of power with the plea of civilization, and which
considers that might is sufficient warrant for victory. In France he
becomes aware of the faults of France, in Germany he realizes the faults
of Germany, loving both countries because they are so different. Each
suffers from the defective distribution of its merits. In France,
liberty is too widely diffused and engenders chaos, while a few
individuals comprising the elite keep their idealism intact. In Germany,
idealism, permeating the masses, has been sugared into sentimentalism
and watered into a mercantile optimism; and here a still smaller elite
preserves complete freedom aloof from the crowd. Each suffers from an
excessive development of national peculiarities. Nationalism, as
Nietzsche says, "has in France corrupted character, and in Germany has
corrupted spirit and taste." Could but the two peoples draw together and
impress their best qualities upon one another, they would rejoice to
find, as Christophe himself had found, that "the richer he was in German
dreams, the more precious to him became the clarity of the Latin mind."
Olivier and Christophe, forming a pact of friendship, hope for the day
when their personal sentiments will be perpetuated in an alliance
between their respective peoples. In a sad hour of international
dissension, the Frenchman calls to the German in words still
unfulfilled: "We hold out our hands to you. Despite lies and hatred, we
cannot be kept apart. We have mutual need of one another, for the
greatness of our spirit and of our race. We are the two pinions of the
west. Should one be broken, the other is useless for flight. Even if war
should come, this will not unclasp our hands, nor will it prevent us
from soaring upwards together."



Jean Christophe is growing old and weary when he comes to know the third
country that will form part of the future European synthesis. He had
never felt drawn towards Italy. As had happened many years earlier in
the case of France, so likewise in the case of Italy, his sympathies had
been chilled by his acceptance of the disastrous and prejudiced formulas
by which the nations impose barriers between themselves while each
extols its own peculiarities as peculiarly right and phenomenally
strong. Yet hardly has he been an hour in Italy when these prejudices
are shaken off and are replaced by enthusiastic admiration. He is fired
by the unfamiliar light of the Italian landscape. He becomes aware of a
new rhythm of life. He does not see fierce energy, as in Germany, or
nervous mobility as in France; but the sweetness of these "centuries of
ancient culture and civilization" makes a strong appeal to the northern
barbarian. Hitherto his gaze has always been turned towards the future,
but now he becomes aware of the charms of the past. Whereas the Germans
are still in search of the best form of self-expression; and whereas the
French refresh and renew themselves through incessant change; here he
finds a nation with a clear sequence of tradition, a nation which need
merely be true to its own past and to its own landscape, in order to
fulfill the most perfect blossoming of its nature, in order to realize

It is true that Christophe misses the element which to him is the breath
of life; he misses struggle. A gentle drowsiness seems universally
prevalent, a pleasant fatigue which is debilitating and dangerous. "Rome
is too full of tombs, and the city exhales death." The fire kindled by
Mazzini and Garibaldi, the flame in which United Italy was forged, still
glows in isolated Italian souls. Here, too, there is idealism. But it
differs from the German and from the French idealism; it is not yet
directed towards the citizenship of the world, but remains purely
national; "Italian idealism is concerned solely with itself, with
Italian desires, with the Italian race, with Italian renown." In the
calm southern atmosphere, this flame does not burn so fiercely as to
radiate a light through Europe; but it burns brightly and beautifully in
these young souls, which are apt for all passions, though the moment has
not yet come for the intensest ardors.

But as soon as Jean Christophe begins to love Italy, he grows afraid of
this love. He realizes that Italy is also essential to him, in order
that in his music and in his life the impetuosity of the senses shall be
clarified to a perfect harmony. He understands how necessary the
southern world is to the northern, and is now aware that only in the
trio of Germany, France, and Italy does the full meaning of each voice
become clear. In Italy, there is less illusion and more reality; but the
land is too beautiful, tempting to enjoyment and killing the impulse
towards action. Just as Germany finds a danger in her own idealism,
because that idealism is too widely disseminated and becomes spurious in
the average man; just as to France her liberty proves disastrous because
it encourages in the individual an idea of absolute independence which
estranges him from the community; so for Italy is her beauty a danger,
since it makes her indolent, pliable, and self-satisfied. To every
nation, as to every individual, the most personal of characteristics,
the very things that commend the nation or the individual to others, are
dangerous. It would seem, therefore, that nations and individuals must
seek salvation by combining as far as possible with their own opposites.
Thus will they draw nearer to the highest ideal, that of European unity,
that of universal humanity. In Italy, as aforetime in France and in
Germany, Jean Christophe redreams the dream which Rolland at
two-and-twenty had first dreamed on the Janiculum. He foresees the
European symphony, which hitherto poets alone have created in works
transcending nationality, but which the nations as yet have failed to
realize for themselves.



In the three diversified nations, by each of which Christophe is now
attracted, now repelled, he finds a unifying element, adapted to each
nation, but not completely merged therein--the Jews. "Do you notice," he
says on one occasion to Olivier, "that we are always running up against
Jews? It might be thought that we draw them as by a spell, for we
continually find them in our path, sometimes as enemies and sometimes as
allies." It is true that he encounters Jews wherever he goes. In his
native town, the first people to give him a helping hand (for their own
ends, of course) were the wealthy Jews who ran "Dionysos"; in Paris,
Sylvain Kohn had been his mentor, Lévy-Coeur his bitterest foe, Weil and
Mooch his most helpful friends. In like manner, Olivier and Antoinette
frequently hold converse with Jews, either on terms of friendship or on
terms of enmity. At every cross-roads to which the artist comes, they
stand like signposts pointing the way, now towards good and now towards

Christophe's first feeling is one of hostility. Although he is too
open-minded to entertain a sentiment of hatred for Jews, he has imbibed
from his pious mother a certain aversion; and sharp-sighted though they
are, he questions their capacity for the real understanding of his work.
But again and again it becomes apparent to him that they are the only
persons really concerned about his work at all, the only ones who value
innovation for its own sake.

Olivier, the clearer-minded of the two, is able to explain matters to
Christophe, showing that the Jews, cut off from tradition, are
unconsciously the pioneers of every innovation which attacks tradition;
these people without a country are the best assistants in the campaign
against nationalism. "In France, the Jews are almost the only persons
with whom a free man can discuss something novel, something that is
really alive. The others take their stand upon the past, are firmly
rooted in dead things. Of enormous importance is it that this
traditional past does not exist for the Jews; or that in so far as it
exists, it is a different past from ours. The result is that we can talk
to Jews about to-day, whereas with those of our own race we can speak
only of yesterday ... I do not wish to imply that I invariably find
their doings agreeable. Often enough, I consider these doings actually
repulsive. But at least they live, and know how to value what is
alive.... In modern Europe, the Jews are the principal agents alike of
good and of evil. Unwittingly they favor the germination of the seed of
thought. Is it not among Jews that you have found your worst enemies and
your best friends?"

Christophe agrees, saying: "It is perfectly true that they have
encouraged me and helped me; that they have uttered words which
invigorated me for the struggle, showing me that I was understood.
Nevertheless, these friends are my friends no longer; their friendship
was but a fire of straw. No matter! A passing sheen is welcome in the
night. You are right, we must not be ungrateful."

He finds a place for them, these folk without a country, in his picture
of the fatherlands. He does not fail to see the faults of the Jews. He
realizes that for European civilization they do not form a productive
element in the highest sense of the term; he perceives that in essence
their work tends to promote analysis and decomposition. But this work of
decomposition seems to him important, for the Jews undermine tradition,
the hereditary foe of all that is new. Their freedom from the ties of
country is the gadfly which plagues the "mangy beast of nationalism"
until it loses its intellectual bearings. The decomposition they effect
helps us to rid ourselves of the dead past, of the "eternal yesterday";
detachment from national ties favors the growth of a new spirit which it
is itself incompetent to produce. These Jews without a country are the
best assistants of the "good Europeans" of the future. In many respects
Christophe is repelled by them. As a man cherishing faith in life, he
dislikes their skepticism; to his cheerful disposition, their irony is
uncongenial; himself striving towards invisible goals, he detests their
materialism, their canon that success must be tangible. Even the clever
Judith Mannheim, with her "passion for intelligence," understands only
his work, and not the faith upon which that work is based.
Nevertheless, the strong will of the Jews appeals to his own strength,
their vitality to his vigorous life. He sees in them "the ferment of
action, the yeast of life." A homeless man, he finds himself most
intimately and most quickly understood by these "sanspatries."
Furthermore, as a free citizen of the world, he is competent to
understand on his side the tragedy of their lives, cut adrift from
everything, even from themselves. He recognizes that they are useful as
means to an end, although not themselves an end. He sees that, like all
nations and races, the Jews must be harnessed to their contrast. "These
neurotic beings ... must be subjected to a law that will give them
stability.... Jews are like women, splendid when ridden on the curb,
though it would be intolerable to be ruled either by Jews or by women."
Just as little as the French spirit or the German spirit, is the Jewish
spirit adapted for universal application. But Christophe does not wish
the Jews to be different from what they are. Every race is necessary,
for its peculiar characteristics are requisite for the enrichment of
multiplicity, and for the consequent enlargement of life. Jean
Christophe, now in his later years making peace with the world, finds
that everything has its appointed place in the whole scheme. Each strong
tone contributes to the great harmony. What may arouse hostility in
isolation, serves to bind the whole together. Nay more, it is necessary
to pull down the old buildings and to clear the ground before we can
begin to build anew; the analytic spirit is the precondition of the
synthetic. In all countries Christophe acclaims the folk without a
country as helpers towards the foundation of the universal fatherland.
He accepts them all into his dream of the New Europe, whose still
distant rhythm stirs his responsive yearnings.



Thus the entire human herd is penned within ring after ring of hurdles,
which the life-force must break down if it would win to freedom. We have
the hurdle of the fatherland, which shuts us away from other nations;
the hurdle of language, which imposes its constraint upon our thought;
the hurdle of religion, which makes us unable to understand alien
creeds; the hurdle of our own natures, barring the way to reality by
prejudice and false learning. Terrible are the resulting isolations. The
peoples fail to understand one another; the races, the creeds,
individual human beings, fail to understand one another; they are
segregated; each group or each individual has experience of no more than
a part of life, a part of truth, a part of reality, each mistaking his
part for the whole.

Even the free man, "freed from the illusion of fatherland, creed, and
race," even he, who seems to have escaped from all the pens, is still
enclosed within an ultimate ring of hurdles. He is confined within the
limits of his own generation, for generations are the steps of the
stairway by which humanity ascends. Every generation builds on the
achievements of those that have gone before; here there is no
possibility of retracing our footsteps; each generation has its own
laws, its own form, its own ethic, its own inner meaning. And the
tragedy of such compulsory fellowship arises out of this, that a
generation does not in friendly fashion accept the achievements of its
predecessors, does not gladly undertake the development of their
acquisitions. Like individual human beings, like nations, the
generations are animated with hostile prejudices against their
neighbors. Here, likewise, struggle and mistrust are the abiding law.
The second generation rejects what the first has done; the deeds of the
first generation do not secure approval until the third or the fourth
generation. All evolution takes place according to what Goethe termed "a
spiral recurrence." As we rise, we revolve on narrowing circles round
the same axis. Thus the struggle between generation and generation is

Each generation is perforce unjust towards its predecessors. "As the
generations succeed one another, they become more strongly aware of the
things which divide them than they are of the things which unite. They
feel impelled to affirm the indispensability, the importance, of their
own existence, even at the cost of injustice or falsehood to
themselves." Like individual human beings, they have "an age when one
must be unjust if one is to be able to live." They have to live out
their own lives vigorously, asserting their own peculiarities in respect
of ideas, forms, and civilization. It is just as little possible to them
to be considerate towards later generations, as it has been for earlier
generations to be considerate towards them. There prevails in this
self-assertion the eternal law of the forest, where the young trees tend
to push the earth away from the roots of the older trees, and to sap
their strength, so that the living march over the corpses of the dead.
The generations are at war, and each individual is unwittingly a
champion on behalf of his own era, even though he may feel himself out
of sympathy with that era.

Jean Christophe, the young solitary in revolt against his time, was
without knowing it the representative of a fellowship. In and through
him, his generation declared war against the dying generation, was
unjust in his injustice, young in his youth, passionate in his passion.
He grew old with his generation, seeing new waves rising to overwhelm
him and his work. Now, having gained wisdom, he refused to be wroth with
those who were wroth with him. He saw that his enemies were displaying
the injustice and the impetuosity which he had himself displayed of
yore. Where he had fancied a mechanical destiny to prevail, life had now
taught him to see a living flux. Those who in his youth had been fellow
revolutionists, now grown conservative, were fighting against the new
youth as they themselves in youth had fought against the old. Only the
fighters were new; the struggle was unchanged. For his part, Jean
Christophe had a friendly smile for the new, since he loved life more
than he loved himself. Vainly does his friend Emmanuel urge him to
defend himself, to pronounce a moral judgment upon a generation which
declared valueless all the things which they of an earlier day had
acclaimed as true with the sacrifice of their whole existence.
Christophe answers: "What is true? We must not measure the ethic of a
generation with the yardstick of an earlier time." Emmanuel retorts:
"Why, then, did we seek a measure for life, if we were not to make it a
law for others?" Christophe refers him to the perpetual flux, saying:
"They have learned from us, and they are ungrateful; such is the
inevitable succession of events. Enriched by our efforts, they advance
further than we were able to advance, realizing the conquests which we
struggled to achieve. If any of the freshness of youth yet lingers in
us, let us learn from them, and seek to rejuvenate ourselves. If this is
beyond our powers, if we are too old to do so, let us at least rejoice
that they are young."

Generations must grow and die as men grow and die. Everything on earth
is subject to nature's laws, and the man strong in faith, the pious
freethinker, bows himself to the law. But he does not fail to recognize
(and herein we see one of the profoundest cultural acquirements of the
book) that this very flux, this transvaluation of values, has its own
secular rhythm. In former times, an epoch, a style, a faith, a
philosophy, endured for a century; now such phases do not outlast a
generation, endure barely for a decade. The struggle has become fiercer
and more impatient. Mankind marches to a quicker measure, digests ideas
more rapidly than of old. "The development of European thought is
proceeding at a livelier pace, much as if its acceleration were
concomitant with the advance in our powers of mechanical locomotion....
The stores of prejudices and hopes which in former times would have
nourished mankind for twenty years, are exhausted now in a lustrum. In
intellectual matters the generations gallop one after another, and
sometimes outpace one another." The rhythm of these spiritual
transformations is the epopee of _Jean Christophe_. When the hero
returns to Germany from Paris, he can hardly recognize his native land.
When from Italy he revisits Paris, the city seems strange to him. Here
and there he still finds the old "foire sur la place," but its affairs
are transacted in a new currency; it is animated with a new faith; new
ideas are exchanged in the market place; only the clamor rises as of
old. Between Olivier and his son Georges lies an abyss like that which
separates two worlds, and Olivier is delighted that his son should
regard him with contempt. The abyss is an abyss of twenty years.

Life must eternally express itself in new forms; it refuses to allow
itself to be dammed up by outworn thoughts, to be hemmed in by the
philosophies and religions of the past; in its headstrong progress it
sweeps accepted notions out of its way. Each generation can understand
itself alone; it transmits a legacy to unknown heirs who will interpret
and fulfill as seems best to them. As the heritage from his tragical and
solitary generation, Rolland offers his great picture of a free soul. He
offers it "to the free souls of all nations; to those who suffer,
struggle, and will conquer." He offers it with the words:

"I have written the tragedy of a vanishing generation. I have made no
attempt to conceal either its vices or its virtues, to hide its load of
sadness, its chaotic pride, its heroic efforts, its struggles beneath
the overwhelming burden of a superhuman task--the task of remaking an
entire world, an ethic, an æsthetic, a faith, a new humanity. Such were
we in our generation.

"Men of to-day, young men, your turn has come. March forward over our
bodies. Be greater and happier than we have been.

"For my part, I say farewell to my former soul. I cast it behind me like
an empty shell. Life is a series of deaths and resurrections. Let us
die, Christophe, that we may be reborn."



Jean Christophe has reached the further shore. He has stridden across
the river of life, encircled by roaring waves of music. Safely carried
across seems the heritage which he has borne on his shoulders through
storm and flood--the meaning of the world, faith in life.

Once more he looks back towards his fellows in the land he has left. All
has grown strange to him. He can no longer understand those who are
laboring and suffering amid the ardors of illusion. He sees a new
generation, young in a different way from his own, more energetic, more
brutal, more impatient, inspired with a different heroism. The children
of the new days have fortified their bodies with physical training, have
steeled their courage in aerial flights. "They are proud of their
muscles and their broad chests." They are proud of their country, their
religion, their civilization, of all that they believe to be their own
peculiar appanage; and from each of these prides they forge themselves a
weapon. "They would rather act than understand." They wish to show their
strength and test their powers. The dying man realizes with alarm that
this new generation, which has never known war, wants war.

He looks shudderingly around: "The fire which had been smouldering in
the European forest was now breaking forth into flame. Extinguished in
one place, it promptly began to rage in another. Amid whirlwinds of
smoke and a rain of sparks, it leaped from point to point, while the
parched undergrowth kindled. Outpost skirmishes in the east had already
begun, as preludes to the great war of the nations. The whole of Europe,
that Europe which was still skeptical and apathetic like a dead forest,
was fuel for the conflagration. The fighting spirit was universal. From
moment to moment, war seemed imminent. Stifled, it was continually
reborn. The most trifling pretext served to feed its strength. The world
felt itself to be at the mercy of chance, which would initiate the
terrible struggle. It was waiting. A feeling of inexorable necessity
weighed upon all, even upon the most pacific. The ideologues, sheltering
in the shade of Proudhon the titan, hailed war as man's most splendid
claim to nobility.

"It was for this, then, that there had been effected a physical and
moral resurrection of the races of the west! It was towards these
butcheries that the streams of action and passionate faith had been
hastening! None but a Napoleonic genius could have directed these blind
impulses to a foreseen and deliberately chosen end. But nowhere in
Europe was there any one endowed with the genius for action. It seemed
as if the world had singled out the most commonplace among its sons to
be governors. The forces of the human spirit were coursing in other

Christophe recalls those earlier days when he and Olivier had been
concerned about the prospect of war. At that time there were but distant
rumblings of the storm. Now the storm clouds covered all the skies of
Europe. Fruitless had been the call to unity; vain had been the pointing
out of the path through the darkness. Mournfully the seer contemplates
in the distance the horsemen of the Apocalypse, the heralds of
fratricidal strife.

But beside the dying man is the Child, smiling and full of knowledge;
the Child who is Eternal Life.



(Colas Breugnon)

     "Brugnon, mauvais garçon, tu ris, n'as tu pas honte?"--"Que veux
     tu, mon ami? Je suis ce que je suis. Rire ne m'empêche pas de
     souffrir; mais souffrir n'empêchera jamais un bon Français de rire.
     Et qu'il rie ou larmoie, il faut d'abord qu'il voie."




At length, in this arduous career, came a period of repose. The great
ten-volume novel had been finished; the work of European scope had been
completed. For the first time Romain Rolland could exist outside his
work, free for new words, new configurations, new labors. His disciple
Jean Christophe, "the livest man of our acquaintance," as Ellen Key
phrased it, had gone out into the world; Christophe was collecting a
circle of friends around him, a quiet but continually enlarging
community. For Rolland, nevertheless, Jean Christophe's message was
already a thing of the past. The author was in search of a new
messenger, for a new message.

Romain Rolland returned to Switzerland, a land he loved, lying between
the three countries to which his affection had been chiefly given. The
Swiss environment had been favorable to so much of his work. _Jean
Christophe_ had been begun in Switzerland. A calm and beautiful summer
enabled Rolland to recruit his energies. There was a certain relaxation
of tension. Almost idly, he turned over various plans. He had already
begun to collect materials for a new novel, a dramatic romance
belonging to the same intellectual and cultural category as Jean

Now of a sudden, as had happened twenty-five years earlier when the
vision of _Jean Christophe_ had come to him on the Janiculum, in the
course of sleepless nights he was visited by a strange and yet familiar
figure, that of a countryman from ancestral days whose expansive
personality thrust all other plans aside. Shortly before, Rolland had
revisited Clamecy. The old town had awakened memories of his childhood.
Almost unawares, home influences were at work, and his native province
had begun to insist that its son, who had described so many distant
scenes, should depict the land of his birth. The Frenchman who had so
vigorously and passionately transformed himself into a European, the man
who had borne his testimony as European before the world, was seized
with a desire to be, for a creative hour, wholly French, wholly
Burgundian, wholly Nivernais. The musician accustomed to unite all
voices in his symphonies, to combine in them the deepest expressions of
feeling, was now longing to discover a new rhythm, and after prolonged
tension to relax into a merry mood. For ten years he had been dominated
by a sense of strenuous responsibility; the equipment of Jean Christophe
had been, as it were, a burden which his soul had had to bear. Now it
would be a pleasure to pen a scherzo, free and light, a work unconcerned
with the stresses of politics, ethics, and contemporary history. It
should be divinely irresponsible, an escape from the exactions of the
time spirit.

During the day following the first night on which the idea came to him,
he had exultantly dismissed other plans. The rippling current of his
thoughts was effortless in its flow. Thus, to his own astonishment,
during the summer months of 1913, Rolland was able to complete his
light-hearted novel _Colas Breugnon_, the French intermezzo in the
European symphony.



It seemed at first to Rolland as if a stranger, though one from his
native province and of his own blood, had come cranking into his life.
He felt as though, out of the clear French sky, the book had burst like
a meteor upon his ken. True, the melody is new; different are the tempo,
the key, the epoch. But those who have acquired a clear understanding of
the author's inner life cannot fail to realize that this amusing book
does not constitute an essential modification of his work. It is but a
variation, in an archaic setting, upon Romain Rolland's leit-motif of
faith in life. Prince Aërt and King Louis were forefathers and brothers
of Olivier. In like manner Colas Breugnon, the jovial Burgundian, the
lusty wood-carver, the practical joker always fond of his glass, the
droll fellow, is, despite his old-world costume, a brother of Jean
Christophe looking at us adown the centuries.

As ever, we find the same theme underlying the novel. The author shows
us how a creative human being (those who are not creative, hardly count
for Rolland) comes to terms with life, and above all with the tragedy of
his own life. _Colas Breugnon_, like _Jean Christophe_, is the romance
of an artist's life. But the Burgundian is an artist of a vanished type,
such as could not without anachronism have been introduced into _Jean
Christophe_. Colas Breugnon is an artist only through fidelity,
diligence, and fervor. In so far as he is an artist, it is in the
faithful performance of his daily task. What raises him to the higher
levels of art is not inspiration, but his broad humanity, his
earnestness, and his vigorous simplicity. For Rolland, he was typical of
the nameless artists who carved the stone figures that adorn French
cathedrals, the artist-craftsmen to whom we owe the beautiful gateways,
the splendid castles, the glorious wrought ironwork of the middle ages.
These artificers did not fashion their own vanity into stone, did not
carve their own names upon their work; but they put something into that
work which has grown rare to-day, the joy of creation. In _Jean
Christophe_, on one occasion, Romain Rolland had indited an ode to the
civic life of the old masters who were wholly immersed in the quiet
artistry of their daily occupations. He had drawn attention to the life
of Sebastian Bach and his congeners. In like manner, he now wished to
display anew what he had depicted in so many portraits of the artists,
in the studies of Michelangelo, Beethoven, Tolstoi, and Handel. Like
these sublime figures, Colas Breugnon took delight in his creative work.
The magnificent inspiration that animated them was lacking to the
Burgundian, but Breugnon had a genius for straightforwardness and for
sensual harmony. Without aspiring to bring salvation to the world, not
attempting to wrestle with the problems of passion and the spiritual
life, he was content to strive for that supreme simplicity of
craftsmanship which has a perfection of its own and thus brings the
craftsman into touch with the eternal. The primitive artist-artisan is
contrasted with the comparatively artificialized artist of modern days;
Hephaistos, the divine smith, is contrasted with the Pythian Apollo and
with Dionysos. The simpler artist's sphere is perforce narrower, but it
is enough that an artist should be competent to fill the sphere for
which he is pre-ordained.

Nevertheless, Colas Breugnon would not have been the typical artist of
Rolland's creation, had not struggle been a conspicuous feature of his
life, and had we not been shown through him that the real man is always
stronger than his destiny. Even the cheerful Colas experiences a full
measure of tragedy. His house is burned down, and the work of thirty
years perishes in the flames; his wife dies; war devastates the country;
envy and malice prevent the success of his last artistic creations; in
the end, illness elbows him out of active life. The only defenses left
him against his troubles, against age, poverty, and gout, are "the souls
he has made," his children, his apprentice, and one friend. Yet this
man, sprung from the Burgundian peasantry, has an armor to protect him
from the bludgeonings of fate, armor no less effectual than was the
invincible German optimism of Jean Christophe or the inviolable faith of
Olivier. Breugnon has his imperturbable cheerfulness. "Sorrows never
prevent my laughing; and when I laugh, I can always weep at the same
time." Epicure, gormandizer, deep drinker, ever ready to leave work for
play, he is none the less a stoic when misfortune comes, an
uncomplaining hero in adversity. When his house burns, he exclaims: "The
less I have, the more I am." The Burgundian craftsman is a man of lesser
stature than his brother of the Rhineland, but the Burgundian's feet are
no less firmly planted on the beloved earth. Whereas Christophe's daimon
breaks forth in storms of rage and frenzy, Colas reacts against the
visitations of destiny with the serene mockery of a healthy Gallic
temperament. His whimsical humor helps him to face disaster and death.
Assuredly this mental quality is one of the most valuable forms of
spiritual freedom.

Freedom, however, is the least important among the characteristics of
Rolland's heroes. His primary aim is always to show us a typical example
of a man armed against his doom and against his god, a man who will not
allow himself to be defeated by the forces of life. In the work we are
now considering, it amuses him to present the struggle as a comedy,
instead of portraying it in a more serious dramatic vein. But the comedy
is always transfigured by a deeper meaning. Despite the lighter touches,
as when the forlorn old Colas is unwilling to take refuge in his
daughter's house, or as when he boastfully feigns indifference after the
destruction of his home (lest his soul should be vexed by having to
accept the sympathy of his fellow men), still amid this tragi-comedy he
is animated by the unalloyed desire to stand by his own strength.

Before everything, Colas Breugnon is a free man. That he is a Frenchman,
that he is a burgher, are secondary considerations. He loves his king,
but only so long as the king leaves him his liberty; he loves his wife,
but follows his own bent; he is on excellent terms with the priest of a
neighboring parish, but never goes to church; he idolizes his children,
but his vigorous individuality makes him unwilling to live with them. He
is friendly with all, but subject to none; he is freer than the king; he
has that sense of humor characteristic of the free spirit to whom the
whole world belongs. Among all nations and in all ages, that being alone
is truly alive who is stronger than fate, who breaks through the seine
of men and things as he swims freely down the great stream of life. We
have seen how Christophe, the Rhinelander, exclaimed: "What is life? A
tragedy! Hurrah!" From his Burgundian brother comes the response:
"Struggle is hard, but struggle is a delight." Across the barriers of
epoch and language, the two look on one another with sympathetic
understanding. We realize that free men form a spiritual kinship
independent of the limitations imposed by race and time.



Romain Rolland had looked upon _Colas Breugnon_ as an intermezzo, as an
easy occupation, which should, for a change, enable him to enjoy the
delights of irresponsible creation. But there is no irresponsibility in
art. A thing arduously conceived is often heavy in execution, whereas
that which is lightly undertaken may prove exceptionally beautiful.

From the artistic point of view, _Colas Breugnon_ may perhaps be
regarded as Rolland's most successful work. This is because it is woven
in one piece, because it flows with a continuous rhythm, because its
progress is never arrested by the discussion of thorny problems. _Jean
Christophe_ was a book of responsibility and balance. It was to discuss
all the phenomena of the day; to show how they looked from every side,
in action and reaction. Each country in turn made its demand for full
consideration. The encyclopedic picture of the world, the deliberate
comprehensiveness of the design, necessitated the forcible introduction
of many elements which transcended the powers of harmonious composition.
But _Colas Breugnon_ is written throughout in the same key. The first
sentence gives the note like a tuning fork, and thence the entire book
takes its pitch. Throughout, the same lively melody is sustained. The
writer employs a peculiarly happy form. His style is poetic without
being actually versified; it has a melodious measure without being
strictly metrical. The book, printed as prose, is written in a sort of
free verse, with an occasional rhymed series of lines. It is possible
that Rolland adopted the fundamental tone from Paul Fort; but that which
in the _Ballades françaises_ with their recurrent burdens leads to the
formation of canzones, is here punctuated throughout an entire book,
while the phrasing is most ingeniously infused with archaic French
locutions after the manner of Rabelas.

Here, Rolland wishes to be a Frenchman. He goes to the very heart of the
French spirit, has recourse to "gauloiseries," and makes the most
successful use of the new medium, which is unique, and which cannot be
compared with any familiar literary form. For the first time we
encounter an entire novel which, while written in old-fashioned French
like that of Balzac's _Contes drolatiques_, succeeds in making its
intricate diction musical throughout. "The Old Woman's Death" and "The
Burned House" are as vividly picturesque as ballads. Their
characteristic and spiritualized rhythmical quality contrasts with the
serenity of the other pictures, although they are not essentially
different from these. The moods pass lightly, like clouds drifting
across the sky; and even beneath the darkest of these clouds, the
horizon of the age smiles with a fruitful clearness. Never was Rolland
able to give such exquisite expression to his poetic bent as in this
book wherein he is wholly the Frenchman. What he presents to us as
whimsical sport and caprice, displays more plainly than anything else
the living wellspring of his power: his French soul immersed in its
favorite element of music.



_Jean Christophe_ was the deliberate divergence from a generation.
_Colas Breugnon_ is another divergence, unconsciously effected; a
divergence from the traditional France, heedlessly cheerful. This
"bourguinon salé" wished to show his fellow countrymen of a later day
how life can be salted with mockery and yet be full of enjoyment.
Rolland here displayed all the riches of his beloved homeland,
displaying above all the most beautiful of these goods, the joy of life.

A heedless world, our world of to-day, was to be awakened by the poet
singing of an earlier world which had been likewise impoverished, had
likewise wasted its energies in futile hostility. A call to joy from a
Frenchman, echoing down the ages, was to answer the voice of the German,
Jean Christophe. Their two voices were to mingle harmoniously as the
voices mingle in the Ode to Joy of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. During
the tranquil summer the pages were stacked like golden sheaves. The book
was in the press, to appear during the next summer, that of 1914.

But the summer of 1914 reaped a bloody harvest. The roar of the cannon,
drowning Jean Christophe's warning cry, deafened the ears of those who
might otherwise have hearkened also to the call to joy. For five years,
the five most terrible years in the world's history, the luminous figure
stood unheeded in the darkness. There was no conjuncture between _Colas
Breugnon_ and "la douce France"; for this book, with its description of
the cheerful France of old, was not to appear until that Old France had
vanished for ever.



     One who is aware of values which he regards as a hundredfold more
     precious than the wellbeing of the "fatherland," of society, of the
     kinships of blood and race, values which stand above fatherlands
     and races, international values, such a man would prove himself
     hypocrite should he try to play the patriot. It is a degradation of
     mankind to encourage national hatred, to admire it, or to extol it.

     NIETZSCHE, _Vorreden Material im Nachlass_.

     La vocation ne peut être connue et prouvée que par le sacrifice que
     fait le savant et l'artiste de son repos et son bien-être pour
     suivre sa vocation.


4, Octobre, 1887.



The events of August 2, 1914, broke Europe into fragments. Therewith
collapsed the faith which the brothers in the spirit, Jean Christophe
and Olivier, had been building with their lives. A great heritage was
cast aside. The idea of human brotherhood, once sacred, was buried
contemptuously by the grave-diggers of all the lands at war, buried
among the million corpses of the slain.

Romain Rolland was faced by an unparalleled responsibility. He had
presented the problems in imaginative form. Now they had come up for
solution as terrible realities. Faith in Europe, the faith which he had
committed to the care of Jean Christophe, had no protector, no advocate,
at a time when it was more than ever necessary to raise its standard
against the storm. Well did the poet know that a truth remains naught
but a half-truth while it exists merely in verbal formulation. It is in
action that a thought becomes genuinely alive. A faith proves itself
real in the form of a public confession.

In _Jean Christophe_, Romain Rolland had delivered his message to this
fated hour. To make the confession a live thing, he had to give
something more, himself. The time had come for him to do what Jean
Christophe had done for Olivier's son. He must guard the sacred flame;
he must fulfil what his hero had prophetically foreshadowed. The way in
which Rolland fulfilled this obligation has become for us all an
imperishable example of spiritual heroism, which moves us even more
strongly than we were moved by his written words. We saw his life and
personality taking the form of an actually living conviction. We saw
how, with the whole power of his name, and with all the energy of his
artistic temperament, he took his stand against multitudinous
adversaries in his own land and in other countries, his gaze fixed upon
the heaven of his faith.

Rolland had never failed to recognize that in a time of widespread
illusion it would be difficult to hold fast to his convictions, however
self-evident they might seem. But, as he wrote to a French friend in
September, 1914, "We do not choose our own duties. Duty forces itself
upon us. Mine is, with the aid of those who share my ideas, to save from
the deluge the last vestiges of the European spirit.... Mankind demands
of us that those who love their fellows should take a firm stand, and
should even fight, if needs must, against those they love."

For five years we have watched the heroism of this fight, pursuing its
own course amid the warring of the nations. We have watched the miracle
of one man's keeping his senses amid the frenzied millions, of one man's
remaining free amid the universal slavery of public opinion. We have
watched love at war with hate, the European at war with the patriots,
conscience at war with the world. Throughout this long and bloody
night, when we were often ready to perish from despair at the
meaninglessness of nature, the one thing which has consoled us and
sustained us has been the recognition that the mighty forces which were
able to crush towns and annihilate empires, were powerless against an
isolated individual possessed of the will and the courage to be free.
Those who deemed themselves the victors over millions, were to find that
there was one thing which they could not master, a free conscience.

Vain, therefore, was their triumph, when they buried the crucified
thought of Europe. True faith works miracles. Jean Christophe had burst
the bonds of death, had risen again in the living form of his own



We do not detract from the moral services of Romain Rolland, but we may
perhaps excuse to some extent his opponents, when we insist that Rolland
had excelled all contemporary imaginative writers in the profundity of
his preparatory studies of war and its problems. If to-day, in
retrospect, we contemplate his writings, we marvel to note how, from the
very first and throughout a long period of years, they combined to build
up, as it were, a colossal pyramid, culminating in the point upon which
the lightnings of war were to be discharged. For twenty years, the
author's thought, his whole creative activity, had been unintermittently
concentrated upon the contradictions between spirit and force, between
freedom and the fatherland, between victory and defeat. Through a
hundred variations he had pursued the same fundamental theme, treating
it dramatically, epically, and in manifold other ways. There is hardly a
problem relevant to this question which is not touched upon by
Christophe and Olivier, by Aërt and by the Girondists, in their
discussions. Intellectually regarded, Rolland's writings are a
maneuvering ground for all the incentives to war. He thus had his
conclusions already drawn when others were beginning an attempt to come
to terms with events. As historian, he had described the perpetual
recurrence of war's typical accompaniments, had discussed the psychology
of mass suggestion, and had shown the effects of wartime mentality upon
the individual. As moralist and as citizen of the world, he had long ere
this formulated his creed. We may say, in fact, that Rolland's mind had
been in a sense immunized against the illusions of the crowd and against
infection by prevalent falsehoods.

Not by chance does an artist decide which problems he will consider. The
dramatist does not make a "lucky selection" of his theme. The musician
does not "discover" a beautiful melody, but already has it within him.
It is not the artist who creates the problems, but the problems which
create the artist; just as it is not the prophet who makes his prophecy,
but the foresight which creates the prophet. The artist's choice is
always pre-ordained. The man who has foreseen the essential problem of a
whole civilization, of a disastrous epoch, must of necessity, in the
decisive hour, play a leading part. He only who had contemplated the
coming European war as an abyss towards which the mad hunt of recent
decades, making light of every warning, had been speeding, only such a
one could command his soul, could refrain from joining the bacchanalian
rout, could listen unmoved to the throbbing of the war drums. Who but
such a man could stand upright in the greatest storm of illusion the
world has ever known?

Thus it came to pass that not merely during the first hour of the war
was Rolland in opposition to other writers and artists of the day. This
opposition dated from the very inception of his career, and hence for
twenty years he had been a solitary. The reason why the contrast between
his outlook and that of his generation had not hitherto been
conspicuous, the reason why the cleavage was not disclosed until the
actual outbreak of war, lies in this, that Rolland's divergence was a
matter not so much of mood as of character. Before the apocalyptic year,
almost all persons of artistic temperament had recognized quite as
definitely as Rolland had recognized that a fratricidal struggle between
Europeans would be a crime, would disgrace civilization. With few
exceptions, they were pacifists. It would be more correct to say that
with few exceptions they believed themselves to be pacifists. For
pacifism does not simply mean, to be a friend to peace, but to be a
worker in the cause of peace, an εἱρηνοποιὁς, as the New Testament has
it. Pacifism signifies the activity of an effective will to peace, not
merely the love of an easy life and a preference for repose. It
signifies struggle; and like every struggle it demands, in the hour of
danger, self-sacrifice and heroism. Now these "pacifists" we have just
been considering had merely a sentimental fondness for peace; they were
friendly towards peace, just as they were friendly towards ideas of
social equality, towards philanthropy, towards the abolition of capital
punishment. Such faith as they possessed was a faith devoid of passion.
They wore their opinions as they wore their clothing, and when the time
of trial came they were ready to exchange their pacifist ethic for the
ethic of the war-makers, were ready to don a national uniform in matters
of opinion. At bottom, they knew the right just as well as Rolland, but
they had not the courage of their opinions. Goethe's saying to Eckermann
applies to them with deadly force. "All the evils of modern literature
are due to lack of character in individual investigators and writers."

Thus Rolland did not stand alone in his knowledge, which was shared by
many intellectuals and statesmen. But in his case, all his knowledge was
tinged with religious fervor; his beliefs were a living faith; his
thoughts were actions. He was unique among imaginative writers for the
splendid vigor with which he remained true to his ideals when all others
were deserting the standard; for the way in which he defended the
European spirit against the raging armies of the sometime European
intellectuals now turned patriots. Fighting as he had fought from youth
upwards on behalf of the invisible against the world of reality, he
displayed, as a foil to the heroism of the trenches, a higher heroism
still. While the soldiers were manifesting the heroism of blood, Rolland
manifested the heroism of the spirit, and showed the glorious spectacle
of one who was able, amid the intoxication of the war-maddened masses,
to maintain the sobriety and freedom of an unclouded mind.



At the outbreak of the war, Romain Rolland was in Vevey, a small and
ancient city on the lake of Geneva. With few exceptions he spent his
summers in Switzerland, the country in which some of his best literary
work had been accomplished. In Switzerland, where the nations join
fraternal hands to form a state, where Jean Christophe had heralded
European unity, Rolland received the news of the world disaster.

Of a sudden it seemed as if his whole life had become meaningless. Vain
had been his exhortations, vain the twenty years of ardent endeavor. He
had feared this disaster since early boyhood. He had made Olivier cry in
torment of soul: "I dread war so greatly, I have dreaded it for so long.
It has been a nightmare to me, and it poisoned my childhood's days."
Now, what he had prophetically anticipated had become a terrible reality
for hundreds of millions of human beings. The agony of the hour was
nowise diminished because he had foreseen its coming to be inevitable.
On the contrary, while others hastened to deaden their senses with the
opium of false conceptions of duty and with the hashish dreams of
victory, Rolland's pitiless sobriety enabled him to look far out into
the future. On August 3rd he wrote in his diary: "I feel at the end of
my resources. I wish I were dead. It is horrible to live when men have
gone mad, horrible to witness the collapse of civilization. This
European war is the greatest catastrophe in the history of many
centuries, the overthrow of our dearest hopes of human brotherhood." A
few days later, in still greater despair, he penned the following entry:
"My distress is so colossal an accumulation of distresses that I can
scarcely breathe. The ravaging of France, the fate of my friends, their
deaths, their wounds. The grief at all this suffering, the heartrending
sympathetic anguish with the millions of sufferers. I feel a moral
death-struggle as I look on at this mad humanity which is offering up
its most precious possessions, its energies, its genius, its ardors of
heroic devotion, which is sacrificing all these things to the murderous
and stupid idols of war. I am heartbroken at the absence of any divine
message, any divine spirit, any moral leadership, which might upbuild
the City of God when the carnage is at an end. The futility of my whole
life has reached its climax. If I could but sleep, never to reawaken."

Frequently, in this torment of mind, he desired to return to France; but
he knew that he could be of no use there. In youth, undersized and
delicate, he had been unfit for military service. Now, hard upon fifty
years of age, he would obviously be of even less account. The merest
semblance of helping in the war would have been repugnant to his
conscience, for his acceptance of Tolstoi's teaching had made his
convictions steadfast. He knew that it was incumbent upon him to defend
France, but to do so in another sense than that of the combatants and
that of the intellectuals clamorous with hate. "A great nation," he
wrote more than a year later, in the preface to _Au-dessus de la mêlée_,
"has not only its frontiers to protect; it must also protect its good
sense. It must protect itself from the hallucinations, injustices, and
follies which war lets loose. To each his part. To the armies, the
protection of the soil of their native land. To the thinkers, the
defense of its thought.... The spirit is by no means the most
insignificant part of a people's patrimony." In these opening days of
misery, it was not yet clear to him whether and how he would be called
upon to speak. Yet he knew that if and when he did speak, he would take
up his parable on behalf of intellectual freedom and supranational

But justice must have freedom of outlook. Nowhere except in a neutral
country could the observer listen to all voices, make acquaintance with
all opinions. From such a country alone could he secure a view above the
smoke of the battle-field, above the mist of falsehood, above the poison
gas of hatred. Here he could retain freedom of judgment and freedom of
speech. In _Jean Christophe_, he had shown the dangerous power of mass
suggestion. "Under its influence," he had written, "in every country the
firmest intelligences felt their most cherished convictions melting
away." No one knew better than Rolland "the spiritual contagion, the
all-pervading insanity, of collective thought." Knowing these things so
well, he wished all the more to remain free from them, to shun the
intoxication of the crowd, to avoid the risk of having to follow any
other leadership than that of his conscience. He had merely to turn to
his own writings. He could read there the words of Olivier: "I love
France, but I cannot for the sake of France kill my soul or betray my
conscience. This would indeed be to betray my country. How can I hate
when I feel no hatred? How can I truthfully act the comedy of hate?" Or,
again, he could read this memorable confession: "I will not hate. I will
be just even to my enemies. Amid all the stresses of passion, I wish to
keep my vision clear, that I may understand everything and thus be able
to love everything." Only in freedom, only in independence of spirit,
can the artist aid his nation. Thus alone can he serve his generation,
thus alone can he serve humanity. Loyalty to truth is loyalty to the

What had befallen through chance was now confirmed by deliberate choice.
During the five years of the war Romain Rolland remained in Switzerland,
Europe's heart; remained there that he might fulfil his task, "de dire
ce qui est juste et humain." Here, where the breezes blow freely from
all other lands, and whence a voice could pass freely across all the
frontiers, here where no fetters were imposed upon speech, he followed
the call of his invisible duty. Close at hand the endless waves of blood
and hatred emanating from the frenzy of war were foaming against the
frontiers of the cantonal state. But throughout the storm, the magnetic
needle of one intelligence continued to point unerringly towards the
immutable pole of life--to point towards love.



In Rolland's view it was the artist's duty to serve his fatherland by
conscientious service to all mankind, to play his part in the struggle
by waging war against the suffering the war was causing and against the
thousandfold torments entailed by the war. He rejected the idea of
absolute aloofness. "An artist has no right to hold aloof while he is
still able to help others." But this aid, this participation, must not
take the form of fostering the murderous hatred which already animated
the millions. The aim must be to unite the millions further, where
unseen ties already existed, in their infinite suffering. He therefore
took his part in the ranks of the helpers, not weapon in hand, but
following the example of Walt Whitman, who, during the American Civil
War, served as hospital assistant.

Hardly had the first blows been struck when cries of anguish from all
lands began to be heard in Switzerland. Thousands who were without news
of fathers, husbands, and sons in the battlefields, stretched despairing
arms into the void. By hundreds, by thousands, by tens of thousands,
letters and telegrams poured into the little House of the Red Cross in
Geneva, the only international rallying point that still remained.
Isolated, like stormy petrels, came the first inquiries for missing
relatives; then these inquiries themselves became a storm. The letters
arrived in sackfuls. Nothing had been prepared for dealing with such an
inundation of misery. The Red Cross had no space, no organization, no
system, and above all no helpers.

Romain Rolland was one of the first to offer personal assistance. The
Musée Rath was quickly made available for the purposes of the Red Cross.
In one of the small wooden cubicles, among hundreds of girls, women, and
students, Rolland sat for more than eighteen months, engaged each day
for from six to eight hours side by side with the head of the
undertaking, Dr. Ferrière, to whose genius for organization myriads owe
it that the period of suspense was shortened. Here Rolland filed
letters, wrote letters, performed an abundance of detail work, seemingly
of little importance. But how momentous was every word to the
individuals whom he could help, for in this vast universe each suffering
individual is mainly concerned about his own particular grain of
unhappiness. Countless persons to-day, unaware of the fact, have to
thank the great writer for news of their lost relatives. A rough stool,
a small table of unpolished deal, the turmoil of typewriters, the bustle
of human beings questioning, calling one to another, hastening to and
fro--such was Romain Rolland's battlefield in this campaign against the
afflictions of the war. Here, while other authors and intellectuals were
doing their utmost to foster mutual hatred, he endeavored to promote
reconciliation, to alleviate the torment of a fraction among the
countless sufferers by such consolation as the circumstances rendered
possible. He neither desired, nor occupied, a leading position in the
work of the Red Cross; but, like so many other nameless assistants, he
devoted himself to the daily task of promoting the interchange of news.
His deeds were inconspicuous, and are therefore all the more memorable.

When he was allotted the Nobel peace prize, he refused to retain the
money for his own use, and devoted the whole sum to the mitigation of
the miseries of Europe, that he might suit the action to the word, the
word to the action. Ecce homo! Ecce poeta!



No one had been more perfectly forearmed than Romain Rolland. The
closing chapters of _Jean Christophe_ foretell the coming mass illusion.
Never for a moment had he entertained the vain hope of certain idealists
that the fact (or semblance) of civilization, that the increase of human
kindliness which we owe to two millenniums of Christianity, would make a
future war, comparatively humane. Too well did he know as historian that
in the initial outbursts of war passion the veneer of civilization and
Christianity would be rubbed off; that in all nations alike the naked
bestiality of human beings would be disclosed; that the smell of the
shed blood would reduce them all to the level of wild beasts. He did not
conceal from himself that this strange halitus is able to dull and to
confuse even the gentlest, the kindliest, the most intelligent of souls.
The rending asunder of ancient friendships, the sudden solidarity among
persons most opposed in temperament now eager to abase themselves before
the idol of the fatherland, the total disappearance of conscientious
conviction at the first breath of the actualities of war--in _Jean
Christophe_ these things were written no less plainly than when of old
the fingers of the hand wrote upon the palace wall in Babylon.

Nevertheless, even this prophetic soul had underestimated the cruel
reality. During the opening days of the war, Rolland was horrified to
note how all previous wars were being eclipsed in the atrocity of the
struggle, in its material and spiritual brutality, in its extent, and in
the intensity of its passion. All possible anticipations had been
outdone. Although for thousands of years, by twos or variously allied,
the peoples of Europe had almost unceasingly been warring one with
another, never before had their mutual hatreds, as manifested in word
and deed, risen to such a pitch as in this twentieth century after the
birth of Christ. Never before in the history of mankind did hatred
extend so widely through the populations; never did it rage so fiercely
among the intellectuals; never before was oil pumped into the flames as
it was now pumped from innumerable fountains and tubes of the spirit,
from the canals of the newspapers, from the retorts of the professors.
All evil instincts were fostered among the masses. The whole world of
feeling, the whole world of thought, became militarized. The loathsome
organization for the dealing of death by material weapons was yet more
loathsomely reflected in the organization of national telegraphic
bureaus to scatter lies like sparks over land and sea. For the first
time, science, poetry, art, and philosophy became no less subservient to
war than mechanical ingenuity was subservient. In the pulpits and
professorial chairs, in the research laboratories, in the editorial
offices and in the authors' studies, all energies were concentrated as
by an invisible system upon the generation and diffusion of hatred. The
seer's apocalyptic warnings were surpassed.

A deluge of hatred and blood such as even the blood-drenched soil of
Europe had never known, flowed from land to land. Romain Rolland knew
that a lost world, a corrupt generation, cannot be saved from its
illusions. A world conflagration cannot be extinguished by a word,
cannot be quelled by the efforts of naked human hands. The only possible
endeavor was to prevent others adding fuel to the flames, and with the
lash of scorn and contempt to deter as far as might be those who were
engaged in such criminal undertakings. It might be possible, too, to
build an ark wherein what was intellectually precious in this suicidal
generation might be saved from the deluge, might be made available for
those of a future day when the waters of hatred should have subsided. A
sign might be uplifted, round which the faithful could rally, building a
temple of unity amid, and yet high above, the battlefields.

Among the detestable organizations of the general staffs, mechanical
ingenuity, lying, and hatred, Rolland dreamed of establishing another
organization, a fellowship of the free spirits of Europe. The leading
imaginative writers, the leading men of science, were to constitute the
ark he desired; they were to be the sustainers of justice in these days
of injustice and falsehood. While the masses, deceived by words, were
raging against one another in blind fury, the artists, the writers, the
men of science, of Germany, France, and England, who for centuries had
been coöperating for discoveries, advances, ideals, could combine to
form a tribunal of the spirit which, with scientific earnestness, should
devote itself to extirpating the falsehoods that were keeping their
respective peoples apart. Transcending nationality, they could hold
intercourse on a higher plane. For it was Rolland's most cherished hope
that the great artists and great investigators would refuse to identify
themselves with the crime of the war, would refrain from abandoning
their freedom of conscience and from entrenching themselves behind a
facile "my country, right or wrong." With few exceptions, intellectuals
had for centuries recognized the repulsiveness of war. More than a
thousand years earlier, when China was threatened by ambitious Mongols,
Li Tai Peh had exclaimed: "Accursed be war! Accursed the work of
weapons! The sage has nothing to do with these follies." The contention
that the sage has naught to do with such follies seems to rise like an
unenunciated refrain from all the utterances of western men of learning
since Europe began to have a common life. In Latin letters (for Latin,
the medium of intercourse, was likewise the symbol of supranational
fellowship), the great humanists whose respective countries were at war
exchanged their regrets, and offered mutual philosophical solace against
the murderous illusions of their less instructed fellows. Herder was
speaking for the learned Germans of the eighteenth century when he
wrote: "For fatherland to engage in a bloody struggle with fatherland is
the most preposterous, barbarism." Goethe, Byron, Voltaire, and
Rousseau, were at one in their contempt for the purposeless butcheries
of war. To-day, in Rolland's view, the leading intellectuals, the great
scientific investigators whose minds would perforce remain unclouded,
the most humane among the imaginative writers, could join in a
fellowship whose members would renounce the errors of their respective
nations. He did not, indeed, venture to hope that there would be a very
large number of persons whose souls would remain free from the passions
of the time. But spiritual force is not based upon numbers; its laws are
not those of armies. In this field, Goethe's saying is applicable:
"Everything great, and everything most worth having comes from a
minority. It cannot be supposed that reason will ever become popular.
Passion and sentiment may be popularized, the reason will always remain
a privilege of the few." This minority, however, may acquire authority
through spiritual force. Above all, it may constitute a bulwark against
falsehood. If men of light and leading, free men of all nationalities,
were to meet somewhere, in Switzerland perhaps, to make common cause
against every injustice, by whomever committed, a sanctuary would at
length be established, an asylum for truth which was now everywhere
bound and gagged. Europe would have a span of soil for home; mankind
would have a spark of hope. Holding mutual converse, these best of men
could enlighten one another; and the reciprocal illumination on the part
of such unprejudiced persons could not fail to diffuse its light over
the world.

Such was the mood in which Rolland took up his pen for the first time
after the outbreak of war. He wrote an open letter to Hauptmann, to the
author whom among Germans he chiefly honored for goodness and
humaneness. Within the same hour he wrote to Verhaeren, Germany's
bitterest foe. Rolland thus stretched forth both his hands, rightward
and leftward, in the hope that he could bring his two correspondents
together, so that at least within the domain of pure spirit there might
be a first essay towards spiritual reconciliation, what time upon the
battlefields the machine-guns with their infernal clatter were mowing
down the sons of France, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Austria-Hungary, and



Romain Rolland had never been personally acquainted with Gerhart
Hauptmann. He was familiar with the German's writings, and admired their
passionate participation in all that is human, loved them for the
goodness with which the individual figures are intentionally
characterized. On a visit to Berlin, he had called at Hauptmann's house,
but the playwright was away. The two had never before exchanged letters.

Nevertheless, Rolland decided to address Hauptmann as a representative
German author, as writer of _Die Weber_ and as creator of many other
figures typifying suffering. He wrote on August 29, 1914, the day on
which a telegram issued by Wolff's agency, ludicrously exaggerating in
pursuit of the policy of "frightfulness," had announced that "the old
town of Louvain, rich in works of art, exists no more to-day." An
outburst of indignation was assuredly justified, but Rolland endeavored
to exhibit the utmost self-control. He began as follows: "I am not,
Gerhart Hauptmann, one of those Frenchmen who regard Germany as a nation
of barbarians. I know the intellectual and moral greatness of your
mighty race. I know all that I owe to the thinkers of Old Germany; and
even now, at this hour, I recall the example and the words of _our_
Goethe--for he belongs to the whole of humanity--repudiating all
national hatreds and preserving the calmness of his soul on those
heights 'where we feel the happiness and the misfortunes of other
peoples as our own.'" He goes on with a pathetic self-consciousness for
the first time noticeable in the work of this most modest of writers.
Recognizing his mission, he lifts his voice above the controversies of
the moment. "I have labored all my life to bring together the minds of
our two nations; and the atrocities of this impious war in which, to the
ruin of European civilization, they are involved, will never lead me to
soil my spirit with hatred."

Now Rolland sounds a more impassioned note. He does not hold Germany
responsible for the war. "War springs from the weakness and stupidity of
nations." He ignores political questions, but protests vehemently
against the destruction of works of art, asking Hauptmann and his
countrymen, "Are you the grandchildren of Goethe or of Attila?"
Proceeding more quietly, he implores Hauptmann to refrain from any
attempt to justify such things. "In the name of our Europe, of which you
have hitherto been one of the most illustrious champions, in the name of
that civilization for which the greatest of men have striven all down
the ages, in the name of the very honor of your Germanic race, Gerhart
Hauptmann, I adjure you, I challenge you, you and the intellectuals of
Germany, among whom I reckon so many friends, to protest with the
utmost energy against this crime which will otherwise recoil upon
yourselves." Rolland's hope was that the Germans would, like himself,
refuse to condone the excesses of the war-makers, would refuse to accept
the war as a fatality. He hoped for a public protest from across the
Rhine. Rolland was not aware that at this time no one in Germany had or
could have any inkling of the true political situation. He was not aware
that such a public protest as he desired was quite impossible.

Gerhart Hauptmann's answer struck a fiercer note than Rolland's letter.
Instead of complying with the Frenchman's plea, instead of repudiating
the German militarist policy of frightfulness, he attempted, with
sinister enthusiasm, to justify that policy. Accepting the maxim, "war
is war," he, somewhat prematurely, defended the right of the stronger.
"The weak naturally have recourse to vituperation." He declared the
report of the destruction of Louvain to be false. It was, he said, a
matter of life or death for Germany that the German troops should effect
"their peaceful passage" through Belgium. He referred to the
pronouncements of the general staff, and quoted, as the highest
authority for truth, the words of "the Emperor himself."

Therewith the controversy passed from the spiritual to the political
plane. Rolland, embittered in his turn, rejected the views of Hauptmann,
who was lending his moral authority to the support of Schlieffen's
aggressive theories. Hauptmann, declared Rolland, was "accepting
responsibility for the crimes of those who wield authority." Instead of
promoting harmony, the correspondence was fostering discord. In reality
the two had no common ground for discussion. The attempt was ill-timed,
passion still ran too high; the mists of prevalent falsehood still
obscured vision on both sides. The waters of the flood continued to
rise, the infinite deluge of hatred and error. Brethren were as yet
unable to recognize one another in the darkness.



Having written to Gerhart Hauptmann, the German, Rolland almost
simultaneously addressed himself to Emile Verhaeren, the Belgian, who
had been an enthusiast for European unity, but had now become one of
Germany's bitterest foes. Perhaps no one is better entitled than the
present writer to bear witness that Verhaeren's hostility to Germany was
a new thing. As long as peace lasted, the Belgian poet had known no
other ideal than that of international brotherhood, had detested nothing
more heartily than he detested international discord. Shortly before the
war, in his preface to Henri Guilbeaux's anthology of German poetry,
Verhaeren had spoken of "the ardor of the nations," which, he said, "in
defiance of that other passion which tends to make them quarrel,
inclines them towards mutual love." The German invasion of Belgium
taught him to hate. His verses, which had hitherto been odes to creative
force, were henceforward dithyrambs in favor of hostility.

Rolland had sent Verhaeren a copy of his protest against the destruction
of Louvain and the bombardment of Rheims cathedral. Concurring in this
protest, Verhaeren wrote: "Sadness and hatred overpower me. The latter
feeling is new in my experience. I cannot rid myself of it, although I
am one of those who have always regarded hatred as a base sentiment.
Such love as I can give in this hour is reserved for my country, or
rather for the heap of ashes to which Belgium has been reduced."
Rolland's answer ran as follows: "Rid yourself of hatred. Neither you
nor we should give way to it. Let us guard against hatred even more than
we guard against our enemies! You will see at a later date that the
tragedy is more terrible than people can realize while it is actually
being played.... So stupendous is this European drama that we have no
right to make human beings responsible for it. It is a convulsion of
nature.... Let us build an ark as did those who were threatened with the
deluge. Thus we can save what is left of humanity." Without acrimony,
Verhaeren rejected this adjuration. He deliberately chose to remain
inspired with hatred, little as he liked the feeling. In _La Belgique
sanglante_, he declared that hatred brought a certain solace, although,
dedicating his work "to the man I once was," he manifested his yearning
for the revival of his former sentiment that the world was a
comprehensive whole. Vainly did Rolland return to the charge in a
touching letter: "Greatly, indeed, must you have suffered, to be able to
hate. But I am confident that in your case such a feeling cannot long
endure, for souls like yours would perish in this atmosphere. Justice
must be done, but it is not a demand of justice that a whole people
should be held responsible for the crimes of a few hundred individuals.
Were there but one just man in Israel, you would have no right to pass
judgment upon all Israel. Surely it is impossible for you to doubt that
many in Germany and Austria, oppressed and gagged, continue to suffer
and struggle.... Thousands of innocent persons are being everywhere
sacrificed to the crimes of politics! Napoleon was not far wrong when he
said: 'Politics are for us what fate was for the ancients.' Never was
the destiny of classical days more cruel. Let us refuse, Verhaeren, to
make common cause with this destiny. Let us take our stand beside the
oppressed, beside all the oppressed, wherever they may dwell. I
recognize only two nations on earth, that of those who suffer, and that
of those who cause the suffering."

Verhaeren, however, was unmoved. He answered as follows: "If I hate, it
is because what I saw, felt, and heard, is hateful.... I admit that I
cannot be just, now that I am filled with sadness and burn with anger. I
am not simply standing near the fire, but am actually amid the flames,
so that I suffer and weep. I can no otherwise." He remained loyal to
hatred, and indeed loyal to the hatred-for-hate of Romain Rolland's
Olivier. Notwithstanding this grave divergence of view between Verhaeren
and Rolland, the two men continued on terms of friendship and mutual
respect. Even in the preface he contributed to Loyson's inflammatory
book, _Êtes-vous neutre devant le crime_, Verhaeren distinguished
between the person and the cause. He was unable, he said, "to espouse
Rolland's error," but he would not repudiate his friendship for
Rolland. Indeed, he desired to emphasize its existence, seeing that in
France it was already "dangerous to love Romain Rolland."

In this correspondence, as in that with Hauptmann, two strong passions
seemed to clash; but the opponents in reality remained out of touch.
Here, likewise, the appeal was fruitless. Practically the whole world
was given over to hatred, including even the noblest creative artists,
and the finest among the sons of men.



As on so many previous occasions in his life of action, this man of
inviolable faith had issued to the world an appeal for fellowship, and
had issued it once more in vain. The writers, the men of science, the
philosophers, the artists, all took the side of the country to which
they happened to belong; the Germans spoke for Germany, the Frenchmen
for France, the Englishmen for England. No one would espouse the
universal cause; no one would rise superior to the device, my country
right or wrong. In every land, among those of every nation, there were
to be found plenty of enthusiastic advocates, persons willing blindly to
justify all their country's doings, including its errors and its crimes,
to excuse these errors and crimes upon the plea of necessity. There was
only one land, the land common to them all, Europe, motherland of all
the fatherlands, which found no advocate, no defender. There was only
one idea, the most self-evident to a Christian world, which found no
spokesman--the idea of ideas, humanity.

During these days, Rolland may well have recalled sacred memories of the
time when Leo Tolstoi's letter came to give him a mission in life.
Tolstoi had stood alone in the utterance of his celebrated outcry, "I
can no longer keep silence." At that time his country was at war. He
arose to defend the invisible rights of human beings, uttering a protest
against the command that men should murder their brothers. Now his voice
was no longer heard; his place was empty; the conscience of mankind was
dumb. To Rolland, the consequent silence, the terrible silence of the
free spirit amid the hurly-burly of the slaves, seemed more hateful than
the roar of the cannon. Those to whom he had appealed for help had
refused to answer the call. The ultimate truth, the truth of conscience,
had no organized fellowship to sustain it. No one would aid him in the
struggle for the freedom of the European soul, the struggle of truth
against falsehood, the struggle of human lovingkindness against frenzied
hate. Rolland once again was alone with his faith, more alone than
during the bitterest years of solitude.

But Rolland has never been one to resign himself to loneliness. In youth
he had already felt that those who are passive while wrong is being done
are as criminal as the very wrongdoer. "Ceux qui subissent le mal sont
aussi criminels que ceux qui le font." Upon the poet, above all, it
seemed to him incumbent to find words for thought, and to vivify the
words by action. It is not enough to write ornamental comments upon the
history of one's time. The poet must be part of the very being of his
time, must fight to make his ideas realize themselves in action. "The
elite of the intellect constitutes an aristocracy which would fain
replace the aristocracy of birth. But the aristocracy of intellect is
apt to forget that the aristocracy of birth won its privileges with
blood. For hundreds of years men have listened to the words of wisdom,
but seldom have they seen a sage offering himself up to the sacrifice.
If we would inspire others with faith we must show that our own faith is
real. Mere words do not suffice." Fame is a sword as well as a laurel
crown. Faith imposes obligations. One who had made Jean Christophe utter
the gospel of a free conscience, could not, when the world had fashioned
his cross, play the part of Peter denying the Lord. He must take up his
apostolate, be ready should need arise to face martyrdom. Thus, while
almost all the artists of the day, in their "passion d'abdiquer," in
their mad desire to shout with the crowd, were not merely extolling
force and victory as the masters of the hour, but were actually
maintaining that force was the very meaning of civilization, that
victory was the vital energy of the world, Rolland stood forth against
them all, proclaiming the might of the incorruptible conscience. "Force
is always hateful to me," wrote Rolland to Jouve in this decisive hour.
"If the world cannot get on without force, it still behooves me to
refrain from making terms with force. I must uphold an opposing
principle, one which will invalidate the principle of force. Each must
play his own part; each must obey his own inward monitor." He did not
fail to recognize the titanic nature of the struggle into which he was
entering, but the words he had written in youth still resounded in his
memory. "Our first duty is to be great, and to defend greatness on

Just as in those earlier days, when he had wished by means of his dramas
to restore faith to his nation, when he had set up the images of the
heroes as examples to a petty time, when throughout a decade of quiet
effort he had summoned the people towards love and freedom, so now,
Rolland set to work alone. He had no party, no newspaper, no influence.
He had nothing but his passionate enthusiasm, and that indomitable
courage to which the forlorn hope makes an irresistible appeal. Alone he
began his onslaught upon the illusions of the multitude, when the
European conscience, hunted with scorn and hatred from all countries and
all hearts, had taken sanctuary in his heart.



The struggle had to be waged by means of newspaper articles. Since
Rolland was attacking prevalent falsehoods, and their public expression
in the form of lying phrases, he had perforce to fight them upon their
own ground. But the vigor of his ideas, the breath of freedom they
conveyed, and the authority of the author's name, made of these
articles, manifestoes which spoke to the whole of Europe and aroused a
spiritual conflagration. Like electric sparks given off from invisible
wires, their energy was liberated in all directions, leading here to
terrible explosions of hatred, throwing there a brilliant light into the
depths of conscience, in every case producing cordial excitement in its
contrasted forms of indignation and enthusiasm. Never before, perhaps,
did newspaper articles exercise so stupendous an influence, at once
inflammatory and purifying, as was exercised by these two dozen appeals
and manifestoes issued in a time of enslavement and confusion by a
lonely man whose spirit was free and whose intellect remained unclouded.

From the artistic point of view the essays naturally suffer by
comparison with Rolland's other writings, carefully considered and
fully elaborated. Addressed to the widest possible public, but
simultaneously hampered by consideration for the censorship (seeing that
to Rolland it was all important that the articles published in the
"_Journal de Genève_" should be reproduced in the French press), the
ideas had to be presented with meticulous care and yet at the same time
to be hastily produced. We find in these writings marvelous and
ever-memorable cries of suffering, sublime passages of indignation and
appeal. But they are a discharge of passion, so that their stylistic
merits vary much. Often, too, they relate to casual incidents. Their
essential value lies in their ethical bearing, and here they are of
incomparable merit. In relation to Rolland's previous work we find that
they display, as it were, a new rhythm. They are characterized by the
emotion of one who is aware that he is addressing an audience of many
millions. The author was no longer speaking as an isolated individual.
For the first time he felt himself to be the public advocate of the
invisible Europe.

Will those of a later generation, to whom the essays have been made
available in the volumes _Au-dessus de la mêlée_ and _Les précurseurs_,
be able to understand what they signified to the contemporary world at
the time of their publication in the newspapers? The magnitude of a
force cannot be measured without taking the resistance into account; the
significance of an action cannot be understood without reckoning up the
sacrifices it has entailed. To understand the ethical import, the heroic
character, of these manifestoes, we must recall to mind the frenzy of
the opening year of the war, the spiritual infection which was
devastating Europe, turning the whole continent into a madhouse. It has
already become difficult to realize the mental state of those days. We
have to remember that maxims which now seem commonplace, as for instance
the contention that we must not hold all the individuals of a nation
responsible for the outbreak of a war, were then positively criminal,
that to utter them was a punishable offense. We must remember that
_Au-dessus de la mêlée_, whose trend already seems to us a matter of
course, was officially denounced, that its author was ostracised, and
that for a considerable period the circulation of the essays was
forbidden in France, while numerous pamphlets attacking them secured
wide circulation. In connection with these articles we must always evoke
the atmospheric environment, must remember the silence of their appeal
amid a vastly spiritual silence. To-day, readers are apt to think that
Rolland merely uttered self-evident truths, so that we recall
Schopenhauer's memorable saying: "On earth, truth is allotted no more
than a brief triumph between two long epochs, in one of which it is
scouted as paradoxical, while in the other it is despised as
commonplace." To-day, for the moment at any rate, we may have entered
into a period, when many of Rolland's utterances are accounted
commonplace because, since he wrote, they have become the small change
of thousands of other writers. Yet there was a day when each of these
words seemed to cut like a whip-lash. The excitement they aroused gives
us the historic measure of the need that they should be spoken. The
wrath of Rolland's opponents, of which the only remaining record is a
pile of pamphlets, bears witness to the heroism of him who was the first
to take his stand "above the battle." Let us not forget that it was then
the crime of crimes, "de dire ce qui est juste et humain." Men were
still so drunken with the fumes of the first bloodshed that they would
have been fain, as Rolland himself has phrased it, "to crucify Christ
once again should he have risen; to crucify him for saying, Love one



On September 22, 1914, the essay _Au-dessus de la mêlée_ was published
in "_Le Journal de Genève_." After the preliminary skirmish with Gerhart
Hauptmann, came this declaration of war against hatred, this foundation
stone of the invisible European church. The title, "Above the Battle,"
has become at once a watchword and a term of abuse; but amid the
discordant quarrels of the factions, the essay was the first utterance
to sound a clear note of imperturbable justice, bringing solace to

It is animated by a strange and tragical emotion, resonant of the hour
when countless myriads were bleeding and dying, and among them many of
Rolland's intimate friends. It is the outpouring of a riven heart, the
heart of one who would fain move others, breathing as it does the heroic
determination to try conclusions with a world that has fallen a prey to
madness. It opens with an ode to the youthful fighters. "O young men
that shed your blood for the thirsty earth with so generous a joy! O
heroism of the world! What a harvest for destruction to reap under this
splendid summer sun! Young men of all nations, brought into conflict by
a common ideal, ... all of you, marching to your deaths, are dear to
me.... Those years of skepticism and gay frivolity in which we in
France grew up are avenged in you.... Conquerors or conquered, quick or
dead, rejoice!" But after this ode to the faithful, to those who believe
themselves to be discharging their highest duty, Rolland turns to
consider the intellectual leaders of the nations, and apostrophises them
thus: "For what are you squandering them, these living riches, these
treasures of heroism entrusted to your hands? What ideal have you held
up to the devotion of these youths so eager to sacrifice themselves?
Mutual slaughter! A European war!" He accuses the leaders of taking
cowardly refuge behind an idol they term fate. Those who understood
their responsibilities so ill that they failed to prevent the war,
inflame and poison it now that it has begun. A terrible picture. In all
countries, everything becomes involved in the torrent; among all
peoples, there is the same ecstasy for that which is destroying them.
"For it is not racial passion alone which is hurling millions of men
blindly one against another.... All the forces of the spirit, of reason,
of faith, of poetry, and of science, all have placed themselves at the
disposal of the armies in every state. There is not one among the
leaders of thought in each country who does not proclaim that the cause
of his people is the cause of God, the cause of liberty and of human
progress." He mockingly alludes to the preposterous duels between
philosophers and men of science; and to the failure of what professed to
be the two great internationalist forces of the age, Christianity and
socialism, to stand aloof from the fray. "It would seem, then, that
love of our country can flourish only through the hatred of other
countries and the massacre of those who sacrifice themselves in defense
of them. There is in this theory a ferocious absurdity, a Neronian
dilettantism, which revolts me to the very depths of my being. No! Love
of my country does not demand that I should hate and slay those noble
and faithful souls who also love theirs, but rather that I should honor
them and seek to unite with them for our common good." After some
further discussion of the attitude of Christians and of socialists
towards the war, he continues: "There was no reason for war between the
western nations; French, English, and German, we are all brothers and do
not hate one another. The war-preaching press is envenomed by a
minority, a minority vitally interested in the diffusion of hatred; but
our peoples, I know, ask for peace and liberty, and for that alone." It
was a scandal, therefore, that at the outbreak of the war the
intellectual leaders should have allowed the purity of their thought to
be besmirched. It was monstrous that intelligence should permit itself
to be enslaved by the passions of a puerile and absurd policy of race.
Never should we forget, in the war now being waged, the essential unity
of all our fatherlands. "Humanity is a symphony of great collective
souls. He who cannot understand it and love it until he has destroyed a
part of its elements, is a barbarian.... For the finer spirits of
Europe, there are two dwelling places: our earthly fatherland, and the
City of God. Of the one we are the guests, of the other the builders....
It is our duty to build the walls of this city ever higher and
stronger, that it may dominate the injustice and the hatred of the
nations. Then shall we have a refuge wherein the brotherly and free
spirits from out all the world may assemble." This faith in a lofty
ideal soars like a sea-mew over the ocean of blood. Rolland is well
aware how little hope there is that his words can make themselves
audible above the clamor of thirty million warriors. "I know that such
thoughts have little chance of being heard to-day. I do not speak to
convince. I speak only to solace my conscience. And I know that at the
same time I shall solace the hearts of thousands of others who, in all
lands, cannot and dare not speak for themselves." As ever, he is on the
side of the weak, on the side of the minority. His voice grows stronger,
for he knows that he is speaking for the silent multitude.

[Illustration: Romain Rolland at the time of writing _Above the



The essay _Au-dessus de la mêlée_ was the first stroke of the woodman's
axe in the overgrown forest of hatred; thereupon, a roaring echo
thundered from all sides, reverberating reluctantly in the newspapers.
Undismayed, Rolland resolutely continued his work. He wished to cut a
clearing into which a few sunbeams of reason might shine through the
gloomy and suffocating atmosphere. His next essays aimed at illuminating
an open space of such a character. Especially notable were _Inter Arma
Caritas_ (October 30, 1914); _Les idoles_ (December 4, 1914); _Notre
prochain l'ennemi_ (March 15, 1915); _Le meutre des élites_ (June 14,
1915). These were attempts to give a voice to the silent. "Let us help
the victims! It is true that we cannot do very much. In the everlasting
struggle between good and evil, the balance is unequal. We require a
century for the upbuilding of that which a day destroys. Nevertheless,
the frenzy lasts no more than a day, and the patient labor of
reconstruction is our daily bread. This work goes on even during an hour
when the world is perishing around us."

The poet had at length come to understand his task. It is useless to
attack the war directly. Reason can effect nothing against the elemental
forces. But he regards it as his predestined duty to combat throughout
the war everything that the passions of men lead them to undertake for
the deliberate increase of horror, to combat the spiritual poison of the
war. The most atrocious feature of the present struggle, one which
distinguishes it from all previous wars, is this deliberate poisoning.
That which in earlier days was accepted with simple resignation as a
disastrous visitation like the plague, was now presented in a heroic
light, as a sign of "the grandeur of the age." An ethic of force, an
ethic of destruction, was being preached. The mass struggle of the
nations was being purposely inflamed to become the mass hatred of
individuals. Rolland, therefore, was not, as many have supposed,
attacking the war; he was attacking the ideology of the war, the
artificial idolization of brutality. As far as the individual was
concerned, he attacked the readiness to accept a collective morality
constructed solely for the duration of the war; he attacked the
surrender of conscience in face of the prevailing universalization of
falsehood; he attacked the suspension of inner freedom which was
advocated until the war should be over.

His words, therefore, are not directed against the masses, not against
the peoples. These know not what they do; they are deceived; they are
dumb driven cattle. The diffusion of lying has made it easy for them to
hate. "Il est si commode de haïr sans comprendre." The fault lies with
the inciters, with the manufacturers of lies, with the intellectuals.
They are guilty, seven times guilty, because, thanks to their education
and experience, they cannot fail to know the truth which nevertheless
they repudiate; because from weakness, and in many cases from
calculation, they have surrendered to the current of uninstructed
opinion, instead of using their authority to deflect this current into
better channels. Of set purpose, instead of defending the ideals they
formerly espoused, the ideals of humanity and international unity, they
have revived the ideas of the Spartans and of the Homeric heroes, which
have as little place in our time as have spears and plate-armor in these
days of machine-gun warfare. Heretofore, to the great spirits of all
time, hatred has seemed a base and contemptible accompaniment of war.
The thoughtful among the non-combatants put it away from them with
loathing; the warriors rejected the sentiment upon grounds of chivalry.
Now, hatred is not merely supported with all the arguments of logic,
science, and poesy; but is actually, in defiance of gospel teaching,
raised to a place among the moral duties, so that every one who resists
the feeling of collective hatred is branded as a traitor. Against these
enemies of the free spirit, Rolland takes up his parable: "Not only have
they done nothing to lessen reciprocal misunderstanding; not only have
they done nothing to limit the diffusion of hate; on the contrary, with
few exceptions, they have done everything in their power to make hatred
more widespread and more venomous. In large part, this war is their war.
By their murderous ideologies they have led thousands astray. With
criminal self-confidence, unteachable in their arrogance, they have
driven millions to death, sacrificing their fellows to the phantoms
which they, the intellectuals, have created." The persons to whom blame
attaches are those who know, or who might have known; but who, from
sloth, cowardice, or weakness, from desire for fame or for some other
personal advantage, have given themselves over to lying.

The hatred breathed by the intellectuals was a falsehood. Had it been a
truth, had it been a genuine passion, those who were inspired with this
feeling would have ceased talking and would themselves have taken up
arms. Most people are moved either by hatred or by love, not by abstract
ideas. For this reason, the attempt to sow dissension among millions of
unknown individuals, the attempt to "perpetuate" hatred, was a crime
against the spirit rather than against the flesh. It was a deliberate
falsification to include leaders and led, drivers and driven, in a
single category; to generalize Germany as an integral object for hatred.
We must join one fellowship or the other, that of the truthtellers or
that of the liars, that of the men of conscience or that of the men of
phrase. Just as in _Jean Christophe_, Rolland, in order to show forth
the universally human fellowship, had distinguished between the true
France and the false, between the old Germany and the new; so now in
wartime did he draw attention to the ominous resemblance between the war
fanatics in both camps, and to the heroic isolation of those who were
above the battle in all the belligerent lands. Thus did he endeavor to
fulfill Tolstoi's dictum, that it is the function of the imaginative
writer to strengthen the ties that bind men together. In Rolland's
comedy _Liluli_, the "cerveaux enchaînés," dressed in various national
uniforms, dance the same Indian war-dance under the lash of Patriotism,
the negro slave-driver. There is a terrible resemblance between the
German professors and those of the Sorbonne. All of them turn the same
logical somersaults; all join in the same chorus of hate.

But the fellowship to which Rolland wishes to draw our attention, is the
fellowship of solace. It is true that the humanizing forces are not so
well organized as the forces of destruction. Free opinion is gagged,
whereas falsehood bellows through the megaphones of the press. Truth has
to be sought out with painful labor, for the state makes it its business
to hide truth. Nevertheless, those who search perseveringly can discover
truth among all nations and among all races. In these essays, Rolland
gives many examples, drawn equally from French and from German sources,
showing that even in the trenches, nay, that especially in the trenches,
thousands upon thousands are animated with brotherly feelings. He
publishes letters from German soldiers, side by side with letters from
French soldiers, all couched in the same phraseology of human
friendliness. He tells of the women's organizations for helping the
enemy, and shows that amid the cruelty of arms the same lovingkindness
is displayed on both sides. He publishes poems from either camp, poems
which exhale a common sentiment. Just as in his _Vie des hommes
illustres_ he had wished to show the sufferers of the world that they
were not alone, but that the greatest minds of all epochs were with
them, so now does he attempt to convince those who amid the general
madness are apt to regard themselves as outcasts because they do not
share the fire and fury of the newspapers and the professors, that they
have everywhere silent brothers of the spirit. Once more, as of old, he
wishes to unite the invisible community of the free. "I feel the same
joy when I find the fragile and valiant flowers of human pity piercing
the icy crust of hatred that covers Europe, as we feel in these chilly
March days when we see the first flowers appear above the soil. They
show that the warmth of life persists below the surface, and that soon
nothing will prevent its rising again." Undismayed he continues on his
"humble pélérinage," endeavoring "to discover, beneath the ruins, the
hearts of those who have remained faithful to the old ideal of human
brotherhood. What a melancholy joy it is to come to their aid." For the
sake of this consolation, for the sake of this hope, he gives a new
significance even to war, which he has hated and dreaded from early
childhood. "To war we owe one painful benefit, in that it has served to
bring together those of all nations who refuse to share the prevailing
sentiments of national hatred. It has steeled their energies, has
inspired them with an indefatigable will. How mistaken are those who
imagine that the ideas of human brotherhood have been stifled.... Not
for a moment do I doubt the coming unity of the European fellowship.
That unity will be realized. The war is but its baptism of blood."

Thus does the good Samaritan, the healer of souls, endeavor to bring to
the despairing that hope which is the bread of life. Perchance Rolland
speaks with a confidence that runs somewhat in advance of his innermost
convictions. But he only who realized the intense yearnings of the
innumerable persons who at that date were imprisoned in their respective
fatherlands, barred in the cages of the censorships, he alone can
realize the value to such poor captives of Rolland's manifestoes of
faith, words free from hatred, bringing at length a message of



From the first, Rolland knew perfectly well that in a time when party
feeling runs high, no task can be more ungrateful than that of one who
advocates impartiality. "The combatants are to-day united in one thing
only, in their hatred for those who refuse to join in any hymn of hate.
Whoever does not share the common delirium, is suspect. And nowadays,
when justice cannot spare the time for thorough investigation, every
suspect is considered tantamount to a traitor. He who undertakes in
wartime to defend peace on earth, must realize that he is staking his
faith, his name, his tranquillity, his repute, and even his friendships.
But of what value would be a conviction on behalf of which a man would
take no risks?" Rolland was likewise aware that the most dangerous of
all positions is that between the fronts, but this certainty of danger
was but a tonic to his conscience. "If it be really needful, as the
proverb assures us, to prepare for war in time of peace, it is no less
needful to prepare for peace in time of war. In my view, the latter role
is assigned to those who stand outside the struggle, and whose mental
life has brought them into unusually close contact with the world-all. I
speak of the members of that little lay church, of those who have been
exceptionally well able to maintain their faith in the unity of human
thought, of those for whom all men are sons of the same father. If it
should chance that we are reviled for holding this conviction, the
reviling is in truth an honor to us, and we may be satisfied to know
that we shall earn the approbation of posterity."

It is plain that Rolland is forearmed against opposition. Nevertheless,
the fierceness of the onslaughts exceeded all expectation. The first
rumblings of the storm came from Germany. The passage in the _Letter to
Gerhart Hauptmann_, "are you the sons of Goethe or of Attila," and
similar utterances, aroused angry echoes. A dozen or so professors and
scribblers hastened to "chastise" French arrogance. In the columns of
"_Die Deutsche Rundschau_," a narrow-minded pangerman disclosed the
great secret that under the mask of neutrality _Jean Christophe_ had
been a most dangerous French attack upon the German spirit.

French champions were no less eager to enter the lists as soon as the
publication of the essay _Au-dessus de la mêlée_ was reported. Difficult
as it seems to realize the fact to-day, the French newspapers were
forbidden to reprint this manifesto, but fragments became known to the
public in the attacks wherein Rolland was pilloried as an antipatriot.
Professors at the Sorbonne and historians of renown did not shrink from
leveling such accusations. Soon the campaign was systematized. Newspaper
articles were followed by pamphlets, and ultimately by a large volume
from the pen of a carpet hero. This book was furnished with a thousand
proofs, with photographs, and quotations; it was a complete dossier,
avowedly intended to supply materials for a prosecution. There was no
lack of the basest calumnies. It was asserted that since the beginning
of the war Rolland had joined the German society "Neues Vaterland"; that
he was a contributor to German newspapers; that his American publisher
was a German agent. In one pamphlet he was accused of deliberately
falsifying dates. Yet more incriminatory charges could be read between
the lines. With the exception of a few newspapers of advanced tendencies
and comparatively small circulation, the whole of the French press
combined to boycott Rolland. Not one of the Parisian journals ventured
to publish a reply to the charges. A professor triumphantly announced:
"Cet auteur ne se lit plus en France." His former associates withdrew in
alarm from the tainted member of the flock. One of his oldest friends,
the "ami de la première heure," to whom Rolland had dedicated an earlier
work, deserted at this decisive hour, and canceled the publication of a
book upon Rolland which was already in type. The French government
likewise began to watch Rolland closely, dispatching agents to collect
"materials." A number of "defeatist" trails were obviously aimed in part
at Rolland, whose essay was publicly stigmatized as "abominable" by
Lieutenant Mornet, the tiger of these prosecutions. Nothing but the
authority of his name, the inviolability of his public life, and the
fact that he was a lonely fighter (this making it impossible to show
that he had any suspect associations), frustrated the well-prepared plan
to put Rolland in the dock among adventurers and petty spies.

All this lunacy is incomprehensible unless we reconstruct the
forcing-house atmosphere of that year. It is difficult to-day, even from
a study of all the pamphlets and books bearing on the question, to grasp
the way in which Rolland's fellow-countrymen had become convinced that
he was an antipatriot. From his own writings, it is impossible for the
most fanciful brain to extract the ingredients for a "cas Rolland." From
a study of his own writings alone it is impossible to understand the
frenzy felt by all the intellectuals of France towards this lonely
exile, who tranquilly and with a full sense of responsibility continued
to develop his ideas.

In the eyes of the patriots, Rolland's first crime was that he openly
discussed the moral problems of the war. "On ne discute pas la patrie."
The first axiom of war ethics is that those who cannot or will not shout
with the crowd must hold their peace. Soldiers must never be taught to
think; they must only be incited to hate. A lie which promotes
enthusiasm is worth more in wartime than the best of truths. In
imitation of the principles of the Catholic church, reflection, doubt,
is deemed a crime against the infallible dogma of the fatherland. It was
enough that Rolland should wish to turn things over in his mind, instead
of unquestioningly affirming the current political theses. Thereby he
abandoned the "attitude française"; thereby he was stamped as "neutre."
In those days "neutre" was a good rime to "traître."

Rolland's second crime was that he desired to be just to all mankind,
that he continued to regard the enemy as human beings, that among them
he distinguished between guilty and not guilty, that he had as much
compassion for German sufferers as for French, that he did not hesitate
to refer to the Germans as brothers. The dogma of patriotism prescribed
that for the duration of the war the feelings of humanitarianism should
be stifled. Justice should be put away on the top shelf, to keep company
there, until victory had been secured, with the divine command, Thou
shalt not kill. One of the pamphlets against Rolland bears as its motto,
"Pendant une guerre tout ce qu'on donne de l'amour à l'humanité, on le
vole à la patrie"--though it must be observed that from the outlook of
those who share Rolland's views, the order of the terms might well be

The third crime, the offense which seemed most unpardonable of all, and
the one most dangerous to the state, was that Rolland refused to regard
a military victory as likely to furnish the elixir of morality, to
promote spiritual regeneration, to bring justice upon earth. Rolland's
sin lay in holding that a just and bloodless peace, a complete
reconciliation, a fraternal union of the European nations, would be more
fruitful of blessing than an enforced peace, which could only sow the
dragon's teeth of hatred and of new wars. In France at this date, those
who wished to fight the war to a finish, to fight until the enemy had
been utterly crushed, coined the term "defeatist" for those who desired
peace to be based upon a reasonable understanding. Thus was paralleled
the German terminology, which spoke of "Flaumachern" (slackers) and of
"Schmachfriede" (shameful peace). Rolland, who had devoted the whole of
his life to the elucidation of moral laws higher than those of force,
was stigmatized as one who would poison the morale of the armies, as
"l'initiateur du défaitisme." To the militarists, he seemed to be the
last representative of "dying Renanism," to be the center of a moral
power, and for this reason they endeavored to represent his ideas as
nonsensical, to depict him as a Frenchman who desired the defeat of
France. Yet his words stood unchallenged: "I wish France to be loved. I
wish France to be victorious, not through force; not solely through
right (even that would be too harsh); but through the superiority of a
great heart. I wish that France were strong enough to fight without
hatred; strong enough to regard even those whom she must strike down, as
her brothers, as erring brothers, to whom she must extend her fullest
sympathy as soon as she has put it beyond their power to injure her."
Rolland made no attempt to answer even the most calumnious of attacks.
He quietly let the invectives pass, knowing that the thought which he
felt himself commissioned to announce, was inviolable and imperishable.
Never had he fought men, but only ideas. The hostile ideas, in this
case, had long since been answered by the figures of his own creation.
They had been answered by Olivier, the free Frenchman who hated hatred;
by Faber, the Girondist, to whom conscience stood higher than the
arguments of the patriots; by Adam Lux, who compassionately asked his
fanatical opponent, "N'es tu pas fatigué de ta baine"; by Teulier, and
by all the great characters through whom during more than two decades he
had been giving expression to his outlook upon the struggle of the day.
He was unperturbed at standing alone against almost the entire nation.
He recalled Chamfort's saying, "There are times when public opinion is
the worst of all possible opinions." The immeasurable wrath, the
hysterical frenzy of his opponents, confirmed his conviction that he was
right, for he felt that their clamor for force betrayed their sense of
the weakness of their own arguments. Smilingly he contemplated their
artificially inflamed anger, addressing them in the words of his own
Clerambault: "You say that yours is the better way? The only good way?
Very well, take your own path, and leave me to take mine. I make no
attempt to compel you to follow me. I merely show you which way I am
going. What are you so excited about? Perhaps at the bottom of your
hearts you are afraid that my way is the right one?"



As soon as he had uttered his first words, a void formed round this
brave man. As Verhaeren finely phrased it, he positively loved to
encounter danger, whereas most people shun danger. His oldest friends,
those who had known his writings and his character from youth upwards,
left him in the lurch; prudent folk quietly turned their backs on him;
newspaper editors and publishers refused him hospitality. For the
moment, Rolland seemed to be alone. But, as he had written in _Jean
Christophe_, "A great soul is never alone. Abandoned by friends, such a
one makes new friends, and surrounds himself with a circle of that
affection of which he is himself full."

Necessity, the touchstone of conscience, had deprived him of friends,
but had also brought him friends. It is true that their voices were
hardly audible amid the clangor of the opponents. The war-makers had
control of all the channels of publicity. They roared hatred through the
megaphones of the press. Friends could do no more than give expression
to a few cautious words in such petty periodicals as could slip through
the meshes of the censorship. Enemies formed a compact mass, flowing to
the attack in a huge wave (whose waters were ultimately to be dispersed
in the morass of oblivion); his friends crystallized slowly and secretly
around his ideas, but they were steadfast. His enemies were a regiment
advancing fiercely to the attack at the word of command; his friends
were a fellowship, working tranquilly, and united only through love.

The friends in Paris had the hardest task. It was barely possible for
them to communicate with him openly. Half of their letters to him and
half of his replies were lost on the frontier. As from a beleaguered
fortress, they hailed the liberator, the man who was freely proclaiming
to the world the ideals which they were forbidden to utter. Their only
possible way of defending their ideas was to defend the man. In
Rolland's own fatherland, Amédée Dunois, Fernand Desprès, Georges Pioch,
Renaitour, Rouanet, Jacques Mesnil, Gaston Thiesson, Marcel Martinet,
and Sévérine, boldly championed him against calumny. A valiant woman,
Marcelle Capy, raised the standard, naming her book _Une voix de femme
dans la mêlée_. Separated from him by the blood-stained sea, they looked
towards him as towards a distant lighthouse upon the rock, and showed
their brothers the signal of hope.

In Geneva there formed round him a group of young writers, disciples and
friends, winning strength from his strength. P. J. Jouve author of _Vous
êtes des hommes_ and _Danse des morts_, glowing with anger and with love
of goodness, suffering intensely at witnessing the injustice of the
world, Olivier redivivus, gave expression in his poems to his hatred for
force. René Arcos, who like Jouve had realized all the horror of war
and who hated war no less intensely, had a clearer comprehension of the
dramatic moment, was more thoughtful than Jouve, but equally simple and
kindhearted. Arcos extolled the European ideal; Charles Baudouin the
ideal of eternal goodness. Franz Masereel, the Belgian artist, developed
his humanist plaint in a series of magnificent woodcuts. Guilbeaux,
zealot for the social revolution, ever ready to fight like a gamecock
against authority, founded his monthly review "demain," which was a
faithful representative of the European spirit for a time, until it
succumbed because of its passion for the Russian revolution. Charles
Baudouin founded the monthly review, "Le Carmel," providing a city of
refuge for the persecuted European spirit, and a platform upon which the
poets and imaginative writers of all lands could assemble under the
banner of humanity. Jean Debrit in "La Feuille" combated the
partisanship of the Latin Swiss press and attacked the war. Claude de
Maguet founded "Les Tablettes," which, through the boldness of its
contributors and through the drawings of Masereel, became the most
vigorous periodical in Switzerland. A little oasis of independence came
into existence, and hither the breezes from all quarters wafted
greetings from the distance. Here alone was it possible to breathe a
European air.

The most remarkable feature of this circle was that, thanks to Rolland,
enemy brethren were not excluded from spiritual fellowship. Whereas
everywhere else people were infected with the hysteria of mass hatred
or were terrified lest they should expose themselves to suspicion, and
therefore avoided their sometime intimates of enemy countries like the
pestilence should they chance to meet them in the streets of some
neutral city, at a time when relatives were afraid to exchange letters
of enquiry regarding the life or death of those of their own blood,
Rolland would not for a moment deny his German friends. Never, indeed,
had he shown more love to those among them who remained faithful, at an
epoch when to love them was dangerous. He made himself known to them in
public, and wrote to them freely. His words concerning these friendships
will never be forgotten: "Yes, I have German friends; just as I have
French, English, and Italian friends; just as I have friends among the
members of every race. They are my wealth, which I am proud of, and
which I seek to preserve. If a man has been so fortunate as to encounter
loyal souls, persons with whom he can share his most intimate thoughts,
persons with whom he is connected by brotherly ties, these ties are
sacred, and the hour of trial is the last of hours in which they should
be rent asunder. How cowardly would be the refusal to recognize these
friends, in deference to the impudent demand of a public opinion which
has no rights over our feelings.... How painful, how tragical, these
friendships are at such a moment, the letters will show when they are
published. But it is precisely by means of such friendships that we can
defend ourselves against hatred, more murderous than war, for it poisons
the wounds of war, and harms the hater equally with the object of

Immeasurable is the debt which friends and numberless unseen companions
in adversity owe to Rolland for his brave and free attitude. He set an
example to all those who, though they shared his sentiments, were
isolated in obscurity, and who needed some such point of crystallization
before their thoughts and feelings could be consolidated. It was above
all for those who were not yet sure of themselves that this archetypal
personality provided so splendid a stimulus. Rolland's steadfastness put
younger men to shame. In his company we were stronger, freer, more
genuine, more unprejudiced. Human loving kindness, transfigured by his
ardor, radiated like a flame. What bound us together was not that we
chanced to think alike, but a passionate exaltation, which often became
a positive fanaticism for brotherhood. We foregathered in defiance of
public opinion and in defiance of the laws of the belligerent states,
exchanging confidences without reserve; our comradeship exposed us to
all sorts of suspicions; these things served but to draw us closer
together, and in many memorable hours we felt with a veritable
intoxication the unprecedented quality of our friendship. We were but a
couple of dozen who thus came together in Switzerland; Frenchmen,
Germans, Russians, Austrians, and Italians. We few were the only ones
among the hundreds of millions who could look one another in the face
without hatred, exchanging our innermost thoughts. This little troop
was all that then constituted Europe. Our unity, a grain of dust in the
storm which was raging through the world, was perhaps the seed of the
coming fraternity. How strong, how happy, how grateful did we often
feel. For without Rolland, without the genius of his friendship, without
the connecting link constituted by his disposition, we should never have
attained to freedom and security. Each of us loved him in a different
way, and all of us regarded him with equal veneration. To the French, he
was the purest spiritual expression of their homeland; to us, he was the
wonderful counterpart of the best in our own world. In this circle that
formed round Rolland there was the sense of fellowship which has always
characterized a religious community in the making. The hostility between
our respective nations, and the consciousness of danger, fired our
friendship to the pitch of exaggeration; while the example of the
bravest and freest man we had ever known, brought out all that was best
in us. When we were near him, we felt ourselves to be in the heart of
true Europe. Whoever was able to know Rolland's inmost essence,
acquired, as in the ancient saga, new energy for the wrestle with brute



All that Rolland gave in those days to his friends and collaborators of
the European fellowship, all that he gave by his immediate proximity,
was but a part of his nature. For beyond these personal limits, he
diffused a consolidating and helpful influence. Whoever turned to him
with a question, an anxiety, a distress, or a suggestion, received an
answer. In hundreds upon hundreds of letters he spread the message of
brotherhood, splendidly fulfilling the vow he had made a quarter of a
century earlier, at the time when Tolstoi's letter had brought him
spiritual healing. In Rolland's self there had come to life, not only
Jean Christophe the believer, but likewise Leo Tolstoi, the great

Unknown to the world, he shouldered a stupendous burden during the five
years of the war. For whoever found himself in revolt against the time
and in conflict with the prevailing miasma of falsehood, whoever needed
counsel in a matter of conscience, whoever wanted aid, knew where he
could turn for what he sought. Who else in Europe inspired such
confidence? The unknown friends of Jean Christophe, the nameless
brothers of Olivier, hidden in out-of-the-way parts, knowing no one to
whom they could whisper their doubts--in whom could they better confide
than in this man who had first brought them tidings of goodness? They
sent him requests, submitted proposals, disclosed the turmoil of their
consciences. Soldiers wrote to him from the trenches; mothers penned
letters to him in secret. Many of the writers did not venture to give
their names, merely wishing to send a message of sympathy and to
inscribe themselves citizens of that invisible "republic of free souls"
which the author of _Jean Christophe_ had founded amid the warring
nations. Rolland accepted the infinite labor of being the centralizing
point and administrator of all these distresses and plaints, of being
the recipient of all these confessions, of being the consoler of a world
divided against itself. Wherever there was a stirring of European, of
universally human sentiment, Rolland did his best to receive and sustain
it; he was the crossways towards which all these roads converged. At the
same time he was continuously in communication with leading
representatives of the European faith, with those of all lands who had
remained loyal to the free spirit. He studied the periodicals of the day
for messages of reconciliation. Wherever a man or a work was devoted to
the reconsolidation of Europe, Rolland's help was ready.

These hundreds and thousands of letters combine to form an ethical
achievement such as has not been paralleled by any previous writer. They
brought happiness to countless solitary souls, strength to the wavering,
hope to the despairing. Never was the poet's mission more nobly
fulfilled. Considered as works of art, these letters, many of which have
already been published, are among the finest and maturest of Rolland's
literary creations. To bring solace is the most intimate purpose of his
art. Here, when speaking as man to man he can give himself without
stint, he displays a rhythmical energy, an ardor of lovingkindness,
which makes many of the letters rank with the loveliest poems of our
time. The sensitive modesty which often makes him reserved in
conversation, was no longer a hindrance. The letters are frank
confessions, wherein his free spirit converses freely with its fellows,
disclosing the author's goodness, his passionate emotion. That which is
so generously poured forth for the benefit of unknown correspondents, is
the most intimate essence of his nature. Like Colas Breugnon he can say:
"Voilà mon plus beau travail: les âmes que j'ai sculptées."



During these years, many people, young for the most part, came to
Rolland for advice in matters of conscience. They asked whether, seeing
that their convictions were opposed to war, they ought to refuse
military service, in accordance with the teaching of Tolstoi, and
following the example of the conscientious objectors; or whether they
should obey the biblical precept, Resist not evil. They enquired whether
they should take an open stand against the injustices committed by their
country, or whether they should endure in silence. Others besought
spiritual counsel in their troubles of conscience. All who came seemed
to imagine that they were coming to one who possessed a maxim, a fixed
principle concerning conduct in relation to the war, a wonder-working
moral elixir which he could dispense in suitable doses.

To all these enquiries Rolland returned the same answer: "Follow your
conscience. Seek out your own truth and realize it. There is no
ready-made truth, no rigid formula, which one person can hand over to
another. Each must create truth for himself, according to his own
model. There is no other rule of moral conduct than that a man should
seek his own light and should be guided by it even against the world. He
who lays down his arms and accepts imprisonment, does rightly when he
follows the inner light, and is not prompted by vanity or by simple
imitativeness. He likewise is right, who takes up arms with no intention
to use them in earnest, who thus cheats the state that he may propagate
his ideal and save his inner freedom--provided always he acts in
accordance with his own nature." Rolland declared that the one essential
was that a man should believe in his own faith. He approved the patriot
desirous of dying for his country, and he approved the anarchist who
claimed freedom from all governmental authority. There was no other
maxim than that of faith in one's own faith. The only man who did wrong,
the only man who acted falsely, was he who allowed himself to be swept
away by another's ideals, he who, influenced by the intoxication of the
crowd, performed actions which conflicted with his own nature. A typical
instance was that of Ludwig Frank, the socialist, the advocate of a
Franco-German understanding, who, deciding to serve his party instead of
serving his own ideal, volunteered at the outbreak of the war, and died
for the ideals of his opponent, for the ideals of militarism.

There is but one truth, such was Rolland's answer to all. The only truth
is that which a man finds within himself and recognizes as his very own.
Any other would-be truth is self-deception. What appears to be egoism,
serves humanity. "He who would be useful to others, must above all
remain free. Even love avails nothing, if the one who loves be a slave."
Death for the fatherland is worthless unless he who sacrifices himself
believes in his fatherland as in a god. To evade military service is
cowardice in one who lacks courage to proclaim himself a sanspatrie.
There are no true ideas other than those which spring from inner
experience; there are no deeds worth doing other than those which are
the outcome of fully responsible reflection. He who would serve mankind,
must not blindly obey the arguments of a stranger. We cannot regard as a
moral act anything which is done simply through imitativeness, or in
consequence of another's persuasion, or (as almost universally under
modern war stresses) through the suggestive influence of mass illusion.
"A man's first duty is to be himself, to remain himself, at the cost of

Rolland did not fail to recognize the difficulty, the rarity, of such
free acts. He recalled Emerson's saying: "Nothing is more rare in any
man, than an act of his own." But was not the unfree, untrue thinking of
the masses, the inertia of the mass conscience, the prime cause of our
present troubles? Would the war between European brethren have ever
broken out if every townsman, every countryman, every artist, had looked
within to enquire whether the mines of Morocco and the swamps of Albania
were truly precious to him? Would there have been a war if every one had
asked himself whether he really hated his brothers across the frontier
as vehemently as the newspapers and the professional politicians would
have him believe? The herd instinct, the pattering of others' arguments,
a blind enthusiasm on behalf of sentiments that were never truly felt,
could alone render such a catastrophe possible. Nothing but the freedom
of the largest possible number of individuals can save us from the
recurrence of such a tragedy; nothing can save us but that conscience
should be an individual and not a collective affair. That which each one
recognizes to be true and good for himself, is true and good for
mankind. "What the world needs before all to-day is free souls and
strong characters. For to-day all paths seem to lead to an accentuation
of herd life. We see a passive subordination to the church, the
intolerant traditionalism of the fatherlands, socialist dreams of a
despotic unity.... Mankind needs men who can show that the very persons
who love mankind can, whenever necessary, declare war against the
collective impulse."

Rolland therefore refuses to act as authority for others. He demands
that every one should recognize the supreme authority of his own
conscience. Truth cannot be taught; it must be lived. He who thinks
clearly, and having done so acts freely, produces conviction, not by
words but by his nature. Rolland has been able to help an entire
generation, because from the height of his loneliness he has shown the
world how a man makes an idea live for all time by loyalty to that which
he has recognized as truth. Rolland's counsel was not word but deed; it
was the moral simplicity of his own example.



Rolland's life was now in touch with the life of the whole world. It
radiated influence in all directions. Yet how lonely was this man during
the five years of voluntary exile. He dwelt apart at Villeneuve by the
lake of Geneva. His little room resembled that in which he had lived in
Paris. Here, too, were piles of books and pamphlets; here was a plain
deal table; here was a piano, the companion of his hours of relaxation.
His days, and often his nights were spent at work. He seldom went for a
walk, and rarely received a visitor, for his friends were cut off from
him, and even his parents and his sister could only get across the
frontier about once a year. But the worst feature of this loneliness was
that it was loneliness in a glass house. He was continually spied upon:
his least words were listened for by eavesdroppers; provocative agents
sought him out, proclaiming themselves revolutionists and sympathizers.
Every letter was read before it reached him; every word he spoke over
the telephone was recorded; every interview was kept under observation.
Romain Rolland in his glass prison-house was the captive of unseen

[Illustration: Rolland's Mother]

It seems hardly credible to-day that during the last two years of the
war Romain Rolland, to whose words the world is now eager to listen,
should have had no facility for expressing his ideas in the newspapers,
no publisher for his books, no possibility of printing anything beyond
an occasional review article. His homeland had repudiated him; he was
the "fuoruscito" of the middle ages, was placed under a ban. The more
unmistakably he proclaimed his spiritual independence, the less did he
find himself regarded as a welcome guest in Switzerland. He was
surrounded by an atmosphere of secret suspicion. By degrees, open
attacks had been replaced by a more dangerous form of persecution. A
gloomy silence was established around his name and works. His earlier
companions had more and more withdrawn from him. Many of the new
friendships had been dissolved, for the younger men in especial were
devoting their interest to political questions instead of to things of
the spirit. The more stormy the outside world, the more oppressive the
stillness of Rolland's existence. He had no wife as helpmate. What to
him was the best of all companionship, the companionship of his own
writings, was now unattainable, for he had no freedom of publication in
France. His country was closed to him, his place of refuge was beset
with a hundred eyes. Most homeless among the homeless, he lived, as his
beloved Beethoven had said, "in the air," lived in the realm of the
ideal, in invisible Europe. Nothing shows better the energy of his
living goodness than that he was no whit embittered by his experience,
and that the ordeal has served but to strengthen his faith. For this
utter solitude among men was a true fellowship with mankind.



There was, however, one companion with whom Rolland could hold converse
daily--his inner consciousness. Day by day, from the outbreak of the
war, Rolland recorded his sentiments, his secret thoughts, and the
messages he received from afar. His very silence was an impassioned
conversation with the time spirit. During these years, volume was added
to volume, until by the end of the war, they totaled no less than
twenty-seven. When he was able to return to France, he naturally
hesitated to take this confidential document to a land where the censors
would have a legal right to study every detail of his private thoughts.
He has shown a page here and there to intimate friends, but the whole
remains as a legacy to posterity, for those who will be able to
contemplate the tragedy of our days with purer and more dispassionate

It is impossible for us to do more than surmise the real nature of this
document, but our feelings suggest to us that it must be a spiritual
history of the epoch, and one of incomparable value. Rolland's best and
freest thoughts come to him when he is writing. His most inspired
moments are those when he is most personal. Consequently, just as the
letters taken in their entirety may be regarded as artistically superior
to the published essays, so beyond question his diary must be a human
document supplying a most admirable and pure-minded commentary upon the
war. Only to the children of a later day will it become plain that what
Rolland so ably showed in the case of Beethoven and the other heroes,
applies with equal force to himself. They will learn at what a cost of
personal disillusionment his message of hope and confidence was
delivered to the world; they will learn that an idealism which brought
help to thousands, and which wiseacres have often derided as trivial and
commonplace, sprang from the darkest abysses of suffering and
loneliness, and was rendered possible solely by the heroism of a soul in
travail. All that has been disclosed to us is the fact of his faith.
These manuscript volumes contain a record of the ransom with which that
faith was purchased, of the payments demanded from day to day by the
inexorable creditor we name Life.



Rolland opened his campaign against hatred almost immediately after the
war began. For more than a year he continued to deliver his message in
opposition to the frenzied screams of rancor arising from all lands. His
efforts proved futile. The war-current rose yet higher, the stream being
fed by new and ever new blood flowing from innocent victims. Again and
again some additional country became involved in the carnage. At length,
as the clamor still grew louder, Rolland paused for a moment to take
breath. He felt that it would be madness were he to continue the attempt
to outcry the cries of so many madmen.

After the publication of _Au-dessus de la mêlée_, Rolland withdrew from
public participation in the controversies with which the essays had been
concerned. He had spoken his word; he had sown the wind and had reaped
the whirlwind. He was neither weary in well-doing nor was he weak in
faith, but he realized that it was useless to speak to a world which
would not listen. In truth he had lost the sublime illusion with which
he had been animated at the outset, the belief that men desire reason
and truth. To his intelligence now grown clearer it was plain that men
dread truth more than anything else in the world. He began, therefore,
to settle accounts with his own mind by writing a satirical romance, and
by other imaginative creations, while continuing his vast private
correspondence. Thus for a time he was out of the hurly-burly. But after
a year of silence, when the crimson flood continued to swell, and when
falsehood was raging more furiously than ever, he felt it his duty to
reopen the campaign. "We must repeat the truth again and again," said
Goethe to Schermann, "for the error with which truth has to contend is
continually being repreached, not by individuals, but by the mass."
There was so much loneliness in the world that it had become necessary
to form new ties. Signs of discontent and revolt in the various lands
were more plentiful. More numerous, too, were the brave men in active
revolt against the fate which was being forced on them. Rolland felt
that it was incumbent upon him to give what support he could to these
dispersed fighters, and to inspirit them for the struggle.

In the first essay of the new series, _La route en lacets qui monte_,
Rolland explained the position he had reached in December, 1916. He
wrote: "If I have kept silence for a year, it is not because the faith
to which I gave expression in _Above the Battle_ has been shaken (it
stands firmer than ever); but I am well assured that it is useless to
speak to him who will not hearken. Facts alone will speak, with tragical
insistence; facts alone will be able to penetrate the thick wall of
obstinacy, pride, and falsehood with which men have surrounded their
minds because they do not wish to see the light. But we, as between
brothers of all the nations; as between those who have known how to
defend their moral freedom, their reason, and their faith in human
solidarity; as between minds which continue to hope amid silence,
oppression, and grief--we do well to exchange, as this year draws to a
close, words of affection and solace. We must convince one another that
during the blood-drenched night the light is still burning, that it
never has been and never will be extinguished. In the abyss of suffering
into which Europe is plunged, those who wield the pen must be careful
never to add an additional pang to the mass of pangs already endured,
and never to pour new reasons for hatred into the burning flood of hate.
Two ways remain open for those rare free spirits which, athwart the
mountain of crimes and follies, are endeavoring to break a trail for
others, to find for themselves an egress. Some are courageously
attempting in their respective lands to make their fellow-countrymen
aware of their own faults.... My task is different, for it is to remind
the hostile brethren of Europe, not of their worst aspects but of their
best, to recall to them reasons for hoping that there will one day be a
wiser and more loving humanity."

The essays of the new series appeared, for the most part, in various
minor reviews, seeing that the more influential and widely circulated
periodicals had long since closed their columns to Rolland's pen. When
we study them as a whole, in the collective volume entitled _Les
précurseurs_, we realize that they emit a new tone. Anger has been
replaced by intense compassion, this corresponding to the change which
had taken place at the fighting front. In all the armies, during the
third year of the war, the fanatical impetus of the opening phases had
vanished, and the men were now animated by a tranquil but stubborn
sentiment of duty. Rolland is perhaps even more impassioned and more
revolutionary in his outlook, and yet the essays are characterized by
greater gentleness than of old. What he writes is no longer at grips
with the war, but seems to soar above the war. His gaze is fixed upon
the distance; his mind ranges down the centuries in search of like
experiences; looking for consolation, he endeavors to discover a meaning
in the meaningless. He recurs to the idea of Goethe, that human progress
is effected by a spiral ascent. At a higher level men return to a point
only a little above the old. Evolution and reversion go hand in hand.
Thus he attempts to show that even at this tragical hour we can discern
intimations of a better day.

The essays comprising _Les précurseurs_ no longer attack adverse
opinions and the war. They merely draw our attention to the existence in
all countries of persons who are fighting for a very different ideal, to
the existence of those heralds of spiritual unity whom Nietzsche speaks
of as "the pathfinders of the European soul." It is too late to hope for
anything from the masses. In the address _Aux peuples assassinés_, he
has nothing but pity for the millions, for those who, with no will of
their own, must be the mute instruments of others' aims, for those
whose sacrifice has no other meaning than the beauty of self-sacrifice.
His hope now turns exclusively towards the elite, towards the few who
have remained free. These can bring salvation to the world by splendid
spiritual imagery wherein all truth is mirrored. For the nonce, indeed,
their activities seem unavailing, but their labors remain as a permanent
record of their omnipresence. Rolland provides masterly analyses of the
work of such contemporary writers; he adds silhouettes from earlier
times; and he gives a portrait of Tolstoi, the great apostle of the
doctrine of human freedom, with an account of the Russian teacher's
views on war.

To the same series of writings, although it is not included in the
volume _Les précurseurs_, belongs Rolland's study dated April 15, 1918,
entitled _Empédocle d'Agrigente et l'âge de la haine_. The great sage of
classical Greece, to whom Rolland at the age of twenty had dedicated his
first drama, now brings comfort to the man of riper years. Rolland shows
that two and a half millenniums ago a poet writing during an epoch of
carnage had recognized that the world was characterized by "an eternal
oscillation from hatred to love, and from love to hatred"; that history
invariably witnesses a whole era of struggle and hatred, and that as
inevitably as the succession of the seasons there ensues a period of
happier days. With a broad descriptive sweep, he indicates that from the
time of the Sicilian philosopher to our own the wise men of all ages
have known the truth, but have been powerless to cope with the madness
of the world. Truth, nevertheless, passes down forever from hand to
hand, being thus imperishable and indestructible.

Even across these years of resignation there shines a gentle light of
hope, though manifest only to those who have eyes to see, only to those
who can lift their gaze above their own troubles to contemplate the



During these five years, the ethicist, the philanthropist, the European,
had been speaking to the nations, but the poet had apparently been dumb.
To many it may seem strange that Rolland's first imaginative work to be
written since 1914, a work completed before the end of the war, should
have been a farcical comedy, _Liluli_. Yet this lightness of mood sprang
from the uttermost abysses of sorrow. Rolland, stricken to the soul when
contemplating his powerlessness against the insanity of the world,
turned to irony as a means of abreaction--to employ a term introduced by
the psychoanalysts. From the pole of repressed emotion, the electric
spark flashes across into the field of laughter. And here, as in all
Rolland's works, the author's essential purpose is to free himself from
the tyranny of a sensation. Pain grows to laughter, laughter to
bitterness, so that in contrapuntal fashion the ego may be helped to
maintain its equipoise against the heaviness of the time. When wrath
remains powerless, the spirit of mockery is still in being, and can be
shot like a fire-arrow across the darkening world.

_Liluli_ is the satirical counterpart to an unwritten tragedy, or
rather to the tragedy which Rolland did not need to write, since the
world was living it. The satire produces the impression of having
become, in course of composition, more bitter, more sarcastic, almost
more cynical, than the author had originally designed. We feel that the
time spirit intervened to make it more pungent, more stinging, more
pitiless. At the culminating point, a scene penned in the summer of
1917, we behold the two friends who are misled by Liluli, the
mischievous goddess of illusion (for her name signifies "l'illusion"),
wrestling to their mutual destruction. In these two princes of fable,
there recurs Rolland's earlier symbolism of Olivier and Jean Christophe.
France and Germany here encounter one another, both hastening blindly
forward under the leadership of the same illusion. The two nations fight
on the bridge of reconciliation which in earlier days they had built
across the abyss dividing them. In the conditions then prevailing, so
pure a note of lyrical mourning could not be sustained. As its creation
progressed, the comedy became more incisive, more pointed, more
farcical. Everything that Rolland contemplated around him, diplomacy,
the intellectuals, the war poets (presented here in the ludicrous form
of dancing dervishes), those who pay lip-service to pacifism, the idols
of fraternity, liberty, God himself, is distorted by his tearful eyes to
seem grotesques and caricatures. All the madness of the world is
fiercely limned in an outburst of derisive rage. Everything is, as it
were, dissolved and decomposed in the acrid menstruum of mockery; and
finally mockery itself, the spirit of crazy laughter, feels the
scourge. Polichinelle, the dialectician of the piece, the rationalist in
cap and bells, is reasonable to excess; his laughter is cowardly, being
a mask for inaction. When he encounters Truth in fetters (Truth being
the one figure in the comedy presented with touching seriousness in all
her tragical beauty), Polichinelle, though he loves her, does not dare
to take his stand by her side. In this pitiable world, even the sage is
a coward; and in the strongest passage of the satire, Rolland's own
intense feeling breaks forth against the one who knows but will not bear
testimony. "You can laugh," exclaims Truth; "you can mock; but you do it
furtively like a schoolboy. Like your forebears, the great
Polichinelles, like Erasmus and Voltaire, the masters of free irony and
of laughter, you are prudent, prudent in the extreme. Your great mouth
is closed to hide your smiles.... Laugh away! Laugh your fill! Split
your sides with laughter at the lies you catch in your nets; you will
never catch Truth.... You will be alone with your laughter in the void.
Then you will call upon me, but I shall not answer, for I shall be
gagged.... When will there come the great and victorious laughter, the
roar of laughter which will set me free?"

In this comedy we do not find any such great, victorious, and liberating
laughter. Rolland's bitterness was too profound for that mood to be
possible. The play breathes nothing but tragical irony, as a defense
against the intensity of the author's own emotions. Although the new
work maintains the rhythm of _Colas Breugnon_, with its vibrant rhymes,
and although in _Liluli_ as in _Colas Breugnon_ there is a strain of
raillery, nevertheless this satire of the war period, a tragi-comedy of
chaos, contrasts strikingly with the work that deals with the happy days
of "la douce France." In the earlier book, the cheerfulness springs from
a full heart, but the humor of the later work arises from a heart
overfull. In _Colas Breugnon_ we find the geniality, the joviality, of a
broad laugh; in _Liluli_ the humor is ironical, bitter, breathing a
fierce irreverence for all that exists. A world full of noble dreams and
kindly visions has been destroyed, and the ruins of this perished world
are heaped between the old France of _Colas Breugnon_ and the new France
of _Liluli_. Vainly does the farce move on to madder and ever madder
caprioles; vainly does the wit leap and o'erleap itself. The sadness of
the underlying sentiment continually brings us back with a thud to the
blood-stained earth. There is nothing else written by him during the
war, no impassioned appeal, no tragical adjuration, which, to my
feeling, betrays with such intensity Romain Rolland's personal suffering
throughout those years, as does this comedy with its wild bursts of
laughter, its expression of the author's self-enforced mood of bitter



_Liluli_, the tragi-comedy, was an outcry, a groan, a painful burst of
mockery; it was an elementary gesture of reaction against suffering that
was almost physical. But the author's serious, tranquil, and enduring
settlement of accounts with the times is his novel, _Clerambault,
l'histoire d'une conscience libre pendant la guerre_, which was slowly
brought to completion in the space of four years. It is not
autobiography, but a transcription of Rolland's ideas. Like Jean
Christophe, it is simultaneously the biography of an imaginary
personality and a comprehensive picture of the age. Matter is here
collected that is elsewhere dispersed in manifestoes and letters.
Artistically, it is the subterranean link between Rolland's manifold
activities. Amid the hindrances imposed by his public duties, and amid
the difficulties deriving from other outward circumstances, the author
built the work upwards out of the depths of sorrow to the heights of
consolation. It was not completed until the war was over, when Rolland
had returned to Paris in the summer of 1920.

Just as little as _Jean Christophe_ can _Clerambault_ properly be termed
a novel. It is something less than a novel, and at the same time a
great deal more. It describes the development, not of a man, but of an
idea. As in _Jean Christophe_, so here, we have a philosophy presented,
but not as something ready-made, complete, a finished datum. In company
with a human being, we rise stage by stage from error and weakness
towards clarity. In a sense it is a religious book, the history of a
conversion, of an illumination. It is a modern legend of the saints in
the form of the life history of a simple citizen. In a word, as the
sub-title phrases it, we have here the story of a conscience. The
ultimate significance of the book is freedom, the attainment of
self-knowledge, but raised to the heroic plane inasmuch as knowledge
becomes action. The scene is played in the intimate recesses of a man's
nature, where he is alone with truth. In the new book, therefore, there
is no countertype, as Olivier was the countertype to Jean Christophe;
nor do we find in _Clerambault_ what was in truth the countertype of
_Jean Christophe_, external life. Clerambault's countertype,
Clerambault's antagonist, is himself; is the old, the earlier, the weak
Clerambault; is the Clerambault with whom the new, the knowing, the true
man has to wrestle, whom the new Clerambault has to overcome. The hero's
heroism is not displayed, as was that of Jean Christophe, in a struggle
with the forces of the visible world. Clerambault's war is waged in the
invisible realm of thought.

At the outset, therefore, Rolland designed to call the book "un
roman-méditation." It was to have been entitled "L'un contre tous," this
being an adaptation of La Boëtie's title _Contr'un_. The proposed name
was, however, ultimately abandoned for fear of misunderstanding. The
spiritual character of the new work recalls a long-forgotten tradition,
the meditations of the old French moralists, the sixteenth century
stoics who during a time of war-madness endeavored in besieged Paris to
maintain their intellectual serenity by engaging in Platonic dialogues.
The war itself, however, was not to be the theme, for the free soul does
not strive with the elements. The author's intention was to discuss the
spiritual accompaniments of this war, for these to Rolland seemed as
tragical as the destruction of millions of men. His concern was the
destruction of the individual soul in the deluge produced by the
overflowing of the mass soul. He wished to show how strenuous an effort
must be made by any one who would escape from the tyranny of the herd
instinct; to display the hateful enslavement of individuals by the
revengeful, jealous, and authoritarian mentality of the crowd; to depict
the terrific efforts which a man must make if he would avoid being
sucked into the maelstrom of epidemic falsehood. He hoped to make it
clear that what appears to be the simplest thing in the world is in
reality the most difficult of tasks in these epochs of excessive
solidarity, namely, for a man to remain what he really is, and not to
become that which the levelling forces of the world, the fatherland, or
some other artificial community, would fain make of him.

Romain Rolland deliberately refrained from casting his hero in a heroic
mold, the treatment thus differing from what he had chosen in the case
of Jean Christophe. Agenor Clerambault is an inconspicuous figure, a
quiet fellow of little account, an author of no particular note, one of
those persons whose literary work succeeds in pleasing a complaisant
generation, though it has no significance for posterity. He has the
nebulous idealism of mediocre minds; he hymns the praises of perpetual
peace and international conciliation. His own tepid goodness makes him
believe that nature is good, is man's wellwisher, desiring to lead
mankind gently onward towards a more beautiful future. Life does not
torment him with problems, and he therefore extols life amid the
tranquil comforts of his bourgeois existence. Blessed with a kindly and
somewhat simple-minded wife, and with two children, a son and a
daughter, he may be considered a modern Theocritus wearing the ribbon of
the Legion of Honor, singing the joyful present and the still more
joyful future of our ancient cosmos.

The quiet suburban household is suddenly struck as by a thunderbolt with
the news of the outbreak of war. Clerambault takes the train to Paris;
and no sooner is he sprinkled with spray from the hot waves of
enthusiasm, than all his ideals of international amity and perpetual
peace vanish into thin air. He returns home a fanatic, oozing hate, and
steaming with phrases. Under the influence of the tremendous storm he
begins to sound his lyre: Theocritus has become Pindar, a war poet.
Rolland gives a marvelously vivid description of something every one of
us has witnessed, showing how Clerambault, like all persons of average
nature, really takes a delight in horrors, however unwilling he may be
to admit it even to himself. He is rejuvenated, his life seems to move
on wings; the enthusiasm of the masses stirs the almost extinguished
flame of enthusiasm in his own breast; he is fired by the national fire;
he is physically and mentally refreshed by the new atmosphere. Like so
many other mediocrities, he secures in these days his greatest literary
triumph. His war songs, precisely because they give such vigorous
expression to the sentiments of the man in the street, become a national
property. Fame and public favor are showered upon him, so that (at this
time when millions of his fellows are perishing) he feels well,
self-confident, alive as never before.

His pride is increased, his joy of life accentuated, when his son Maxime
leaves for the front filled with martial ardor. His first thought, a few
months later, when the young man comes home on leave, is that Maxime
should retail to him all the ecstasies of war. Strangely enough,
however, the young soldier, whose eyes still burn with the sights he has
seen, is unresponsive. Not wishing to mortify his father, he does not
positively attempt to silence the latter's paeans, but for his part, he
maintains silence. For days this muteness stands between them, and the
father is unable to solve the riddle. He feels dumbly that his son is
concealing something. But shame binds both their tongues. On the last
day of the furlough, Maxime suddenly pulls himself together, and begins,
"Father, are you quite sure ...?" But the question remains unfinished,
utterance is choked. Still silent, the young man returns to the
realities of war.

A few days later there is a fresh offensive. Maxime is reported missing.
Soon his father learns that he is dead. Now Clerambault gropes for the
meaning of those last words behind the silence, and is tormented by the
thought of what was left unspoken. He locks himself into his room, and
for the first time he is alone with his conscience. He begins to
question himself in search of the truth, and throughout the long night
he communes with his soul as he traverses the road to Damascus. Piece by
piece he tears away the wrapping of lies with which he has enveloped
himself, until he stands naked before his own criticism. Prejudices have
eaten deep into his skin, so that the blood flows as he plucks them from
him. They must all be surrendered; the prejudice of the fatherland, the
prejudice of the herd, must go; in the end he recognizes that one thing
only is true, one thing only sacred, life. A fever of enquiry consumes
him; the old Adam perishes in the flame; when the day dawns he is a new

He knows the truth now, and wishes to strengthen his own faith. He goes
to some of his fellows and talks to them. Most of them do not understand
him. Others refuse to understand him. Some, however, among whom Perrotin
the academician is notable, are yet more alarming. They know the truth.
To their penetrating vision the nature of the popular idols has long
been plain. But they are cautious folk. They compress their lips and
smile at one another like the augurs of ancient Rome. Like Buddha, they
take refuge in Nirvana, looking down calmly upon the madness of the
world, tranquilly seated upon their pedestals of stone. Clerambault
calls to mind that other Indian saint, who took a solemn vow that he
would not withdraw from the world until he had delivered mankind from
suffering. The truth still glows too fiercely within him; he feels as if
it would stifle him as it strives to gush forth in volcanic eruption.
Once again he plunges into the solitude of a wakeful night. Men's words
have sounded empty. He listens to his conscience, and it speaks with the
voice of his son. Truth knocks at the door of his soul, and he opens to
truth. In this lonely night Clerambault begins to speak to his fellows;
no longer to individuals, but to all mankind. For the first time the man
of letters becomes aware of the poet's true mission, his responsibility
for all persons and for everything. He knows that he is beginning a new
war, he who alone must wage war for all. But the consciousness of truth
is with him, his heroism has begun.

"Forgive us, ye Dead," the dialogue of the country with its children, is
published. At first no one heeds the pamphlet. But after a time it
arouses public animosity. A storm of indignation bursts upon
Clerambault, threatening to lay his life in ruins. Friends forsake him.
Envy, which had long been crouching for a spring, now sends whole
regiments to the attack. Ambitious colleagues seize the opportunity of
proclaiming their patriotism in contrast with his deplorable sentiments.
Worst of all for Clerambault in that his innocent wife and daughter
have to suffer on his account. They do not upbraid him, but he feels as
if he had aimed a shaft against them. He who has hitherto sunned himself
in the warmth of family life and has enjoyed the comforts of modest
fame, is now absolutely alone.

Nevertheless he continues on his course, although these stations of the
cross become harder and harder. Rolland shows how Clerambault finds new
friends, only to discover that they too fail to understand him. How his
words are mutilated, his ideas misapplied. How he is overwhelmed to
learn that his fellows, those whom he wishes to help, have no desire for
truth, but are nourished by falsehood; that they are continually in
search, not of freedom, but of some new form of slavery. (In these
wonderful passages the reader is again and again reminded of
Dostoievsky's Grand Inquisitor.) He perseveres in his pilgrimage even
when he has lost faith in his power to help his fellow men, for this is
no longer his goal. He passes men by, marching onward towards the
unseen, towards truth; his love for truth exposing him ever more
pitilessly to the hatred of men. By degrees he becomes entangled in a
net of calumnies; his troubles develop into a "Clerambault affair"; at
length a prosecution is initiated. The state has recognized its enemy in
the free man. But while the case is still in progress, the "defeatist"
meets his fate from the pistol bullet of a fanatic. Clerambault's end
recalls the opening of the world catastrophe with the assassination of

Never has the tragedy of conscience been more simply and more
poignantly depicted than in this account of the martyrdom of an average
man. Rolland's ripe spiritual powers, his magical faculty for combining
mastery with the human touch, are here at their highest. Never was his
outlook over the world so extensive, never was the view so serene, as
from this last summit. And yet, though we are thus led upwards to the
consideration of the ultimate problems of the spirit, we start from the
plain of everyday life. It is the soul of a commonplace man, the soul it
might seem of a weakling, which moves through this long passion. Herein
lies the marvel of the moral solace which the book conveys. Rolland was
the first to recognize the defect of his previous writings, considered
as means of helping the average man. In the heroic biographies, heroism
is displayed only by those in whom the heroic soul is inborn, only by
those whose flight is winged with genius. In _Jean Christophe_, the
moral victory is a triumph of native energy. But in _Clerambault_ we are
shown that even the weakling, even the mediocre man, every one of us,
can be stronger than the whole world if he have but the will. It is open
to every man to be true, open to every man to win spiritual freedom, if
he be at one with his conscience, and if he regard this fellowship with
his conscience as of greater value than fellowship with men and with the
age. For each man there is always time, for each man there is always
opportunity, to become master of realities. Aërt, the first of Rolland's
heroes to show himself greater than fate, speaks for us all when he
says: "It is never too late to be free!"



For five years Romain Rolland was at war with the madness of the times.
At length the fiery chains were loosened from the racked body of Europe.
The war was over, the armistice had been signed. Men were no longer
murdering one another; but their evil passions, their hate, continued.
Romain Rolland's prophetic insight celebrated a mournful triumph. His
distrust of victory, his reiterated warnings that conquerors are
merciless, were more than justified by the revengeful reality. "Victory
in arms is disastrous to the ideal of an unselfish humanity. Men find it
extraordinarily difficult to remain gentle in the hour of triumph."
These forecasts were terribly fulfilled. Forgotten were all the fine
words anent the victory of freedom and right. The Versailles conference
devoted itself to the installation of a new regime of force and to the
humiliation of a defeated enemy. What the idealism of simpletons had
expected to be the end of all wars, proved, as the true idealists who
look beyond men towards ideas had foreseen, the seed of fresh hatred and
renewed acts of violence.

Once again, at the eleventh hour, Rolland raised his voice in an
address to the man whom sanguine persons then regarded as the last
representative of idealism, as the advocate of perfect justice. Woodrow
Wilson, when he landed in Europe, was received by the exultant cries of
millions. But the historian is aware "that universal history is but a
succession of proofs that the conqueror invariably grows arrogant and
thus plants the seed of new wars." Rolland felt that there was never
greater need for a policy that should be moral, not militarist, that
should be constructive, not destructive. The citizen of the world, the
man who had endeavored to free the war from the stigma of hate, now
tried to perform the same service on behalf of the peace. The European
addressed the American in moving terms: "You alone, Monsieur le
Président, among all those whose dread duty it now is to guide the
policy of the nations, you alone enjoy world-wide moral authority. You
inspire universal confidence. Answer the appeal of these passionate
hopes! Take the hands which are stretched forth, help them to clasp one
another.... Should this mediator fail to appear, the human masses,
disarrayed and unbalanced, will almost inevitably break forth into
excesses. The common people will welter in bloody chaos, while the
parties of traditional order will fly to bloody reaction.... Heir of
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, take up the cause, not of a
party, not of a single people, but of all! Summon the representatives of
the peoples to the Congress of Mankind! Preside over it with the full
authority which you hold in virtue of your lofty moral consciousness
and in virtue of the great future of America! Speak, speak to all! The
world hungers for a voice which will overleap the frontiers of nations
and of classes. Be the arbiter of the free peoples! Thus may the future
hail you by the name of Reconciler!"

The prophet's voice was drowned by the clamors for revenge. Bismarckism
triumphed. Literally fulfilled was the prophecy that the peace would be
as inhuman as the war had been. Humanity could find no abiding place
among men. When the regeneration of Europe might have been begun, the
sinister spirit of conquest continued to prevail. "There are no victors,
but only vanquished."



Despite all disillusionments, Romain Rolland, the indomitable, continued
his addresses to the ultimate court of appeal, to the spirit of
fellowship. On the day when peace was signed, June 26, 1919, he
published in "_L'Humanité_" a manifesto composed by himself and
subscribed by sympathizers of all nationalities. In a world falling to
ruin, it was to be the cornerstone of the invisible temple, the refuge
of the disillusioned. With masterly touch Rolland sums up the past, and
displays it as a warning to the future. He issues a clarion call.

"Brain workers, comrades, scattered throughout the world, kept apart for
five years by the armies, the censorship, and the mutual hatred of the
warring nations, now that barriers are falling and frontiers are being
reopened, we issue to you a call to reconstitute our brotherly union,
and to make of it a new union more firmly founded and more strongly
built than that which previously existed.

"The war has disordered our ranks. Most of the intellectuals placed
their science, their art, their reason, at the service of the
governments. We do not wish to formulate any accusations, to launch any
reproaches. We know the weakness of the individual mind and the
elemental strength of great collective currents. The latter, in a
moment, swept the former away, for nothing had been prepared to help in
the work of resistance. Let this experience, at least, be a lesson to us
for the future!

"First of all, let us point out the disasters that have resulted from
the almost complete abdication of intelligence throughout the world, and
from its voluntary enslavement to the unchained forces. Thinkers,
artists, have added an incalculable quantity of envenomed hate to the
plague which devours the flesh and the spirit of Europe. In the arsenal
of their knowledge, their memory, their imagination, they have sought
reasons for hatred, reasons old and new, reasons historical, scientific,
logical, and poetical. They have labored to destroy mutual understanding
and mutual love among men. So doing, they have disfigured, defiled,
debased, degraded, Thought, of which they were the representatives. They
have made it an instrument of the passions; and (unwittingly, perchance)
they have made it a tool of the selfish interests of a political or
social clique, of a state, a country, or a class. Now, when, from the
fierce conflict in which the nations have been at grips, the victors and
the vanquished emerge equally stricken, impoverished, and at the bottom
of their hearts (though they will not admit it) utterly ashamed of their
access of mania--now, Thought, which has been entangled in their
struggles, emerges, like them, fallen from her high estate.



[Illustration: Original manuscript of _The Declaration of the
Independence of the Mind_]

"Arise! Let us free the mind from these compromises, from these unworthy
alliances, from these veiled slaveries! Mind is no one's servitor. It is
we who are the servitors of mind. We have no other master. We exist to
bear its light, to defend its light, to rally round it all the strayed
sheep of mankind. Our role, our duty, is to be a center of stability, to
point out the pole star, amid the whirlwind of passions in the night.
Among these passions of pride and mutual destruction, we make no choice;
we reject them all. Truth only do we honor; truth that is free,
frontierless, limitless; truth that knows naught of the prejudices of
race or caste. Not that we lack interest in humanity. For humanity we
work; but for humanity as a whole. We know nothing of peoples. We know
the People, unique and universal; the People which suffers, which
struggles, which falls and rises to its feet once more, and which
continues to advance along the rough road drenched with its sweat and
its blood; the People, all men, all alike our brothers. In order that
they may, like ourselves, realize this brotherhood, we raise above their
blind struggles the Ark of the Covenant--Mind, which is free, one and
manifold, eternal."

Many hundreds of persons have signed this manifesto, for leading spirits
in every land accept the message and make it their own. The invisible
republic of the spirit, the universal fatherland, has been established
among the races and among the nations. Its frontiers are open to all who
wish to dwell therein; its only law is that of brotherhood; its only
enemies are hatred and arrogance between nations. Whoever makes his
home within this invisible realm becomes a citizen of the world. He is
the heir, not of one people but of all peoples. Henceforward he is an
indweller in all tongues and in all countries, in the universal past and
the universal future.



Strange has been the rhythm of this man's life, surging again and again
in passionate waves against the time, sinking once more into the abyss
of disappointment, but never failing to rise on the crest of faith
renewed. Once again we see Romain Rolland as prototype of those who are
magnificent in defeat. Not one of his ideals, not one of his wishes, not
one of his dreams, has been realized. Might has triumphed over right,
force over spirit, men over humanity.

Yet never has his struggle been grander, and never has his existence
been more indispensable, than during recent years; for it is his
apostolate alone which has saved the gospel of crucified Europe; and
furthermore he has rescued for us another faith, that of the imaginative
writer as the spiritual leader, the moral spokesman of his own nation
and of all nations. This man of letters has preserved us from what would
have been an imperishable shame, had there been no one in our days to
testify against the lunacy of murder and hatred. To him we owe it that
even during the fiercest storm in history the sacred fire of brotherhood
was never extinguished. The world of the spirit has no concern with the
deceptive force of numbers. In that realm, one individual can outweigh a
multitude. For an idea never glows so brightly as in the mind of the
solitary thinker; and in the darkest hour we were able to draw
consolation from the signal example of this poet. One great man who
remains human can for ever and for all men rescue our faith in





Les origines du théâtre lyrique moderne. (Histoire de l'opéra en Europe
avant Lully et Scarlatti.) Fontemoing, Paris, 1895.

Cur ars picturae apud Italos XVI saeculi deciderit Fontemoing, Paris,

Millet. Duckworth, London, 1902 (has appeared in English translation

Vie de Beethoven. (Vie des hommes illustres.) Cahiers de la quinzaine,
série IV, No. 10, Paris, 1903; Hachette, Paris, 1907; another edition
with woodcuts by Perrichon, J. P. Laurens, P. A. Laurens, and Perrichon,
published by Edouard Pelletan, Paris, 1909.

Le Théâtre du Peuple. Cahiers de la quinzaine, série V, No. 4, Paris,
1903; Hachette, Paris, 1908; enlarged edition, Hachette, Paris, 1913;
Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.

Paris als Musikstadt. Marquardt, Berlin, 1905 (has appeared in German
translation only).

La vie de Michel-Ange. (Vie des hommes illustres.) Cahiers de la
quinzaine, série VII, No. 18; série VIII, No. 2, Paris, 1906; Hachette,
Paris, 1907. Another edition in Les maîtres de l'art series, Librairie
de l'art, ancien et moderne, Plon, Paris, 1905.

Musiciens d'autrefois, Hachette, Paris, 1908. 1. L'opéra avant l'opéra.
2. Le premier opèra joué à Paris: L'Orféo de Luigi Rossi. 3. Notes sur
Lully. 4. Gluck. 5. Grétry. 6. Mozart.

Musiciens d'aujourd'hui, Hachette, Paris, 1908. 1. Berlioz. 2. Wagner:
Siegfried; Tristan. 3. Saint-Saëns. 4. Vincent d'Indy. 5. Richard
Strauss. 6. Hugo Wolf. 7. Don Lorenzo Perosi 8. Musique française et
musique allemande. 9. Pelléas et Mélisande. 10. Le renouveau: esquisse
du movement musical à Paris depuis 1870.

Paul Dupin. Mercure musical. S. J. M. 15/12, 1908.

Haendel. (Les maîtres de la musique.) Alcan, Paris, 1910.

Vie de Tolstoi. (Vie des hommes illustres.) Hachette, Paris, 1911.

L'humble vie héroique. Pensées choisies et précédées d'une introduction
par Alphonse Séché. Sansot, Paris, 1912.

Empédocle d' Agrigente. Le Carmel, Geneva, 1917; La maison française
d'art et edition, Paris, 1918.

Voyage musical aux pays du passe. With woodcuts by D. Glans. Edouard
Joseph, Paris, 1919; Hachette, Paris, 1920.

Ecole des Hates Etudes Socials (1900-1910). Alcan, Paris, 1910.



Au-dessus de la mêlée. Ollendorff, Paris, 1915.

Les précurseurs. L'Humanité, Paris, 1919.

Aux peuples assassinés. Jeunesses Socialistes Romandes, La
Chaux-de-Fonds, 1917; Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.

Aux peuples assassinés (under the title: Civilisation). Privately
printed, Paris, 1918.

Aux peuples assassinés. As frontispiece a wood-engraving by Frans
Masereel. Restricted circulation. Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.



Jean-Christophe. 15 parts 1904-1912. Cahiers de la quinzaine, Série V,
Nos. 9 and 10; Série VI, No. 8; Série VIII, Nos. 4, 6, 9; Série IX, Nos.
13, 14, 15; Série X, Nos. 9, 10; Série XI, Nos. 7, 8; Série XIII, Nos.
5, 6; Série XIV, Nos. 2, 3; Paris, 1904 et seq.

Jean-Christophe. 10 vols. 1. L'aube. 2. Le matin. 3. L'adolescent 4 La
révolte. (1904-1907.)

Jean-Christophe à Paris. 1. La foire sur la place. 2. Antoinette. 3.
Dans la maison. (1908-1910.)

Jean-Christophe. La fin du voyage. 1. Les amies. 2. Le buisson ardent 3.
La nouvelle journée. (1910-1912.) Ollendorff, Paris.

Colas Breugnon. Ollendorff, Paris, 1918.

Pierre et Luce. Le Sablier, Geneva, 1920; Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.

Clerambault. Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.



Introduction to Une lettre inédite de Tolstoi, Cahiers de la quinzaine,
Série III, No. 9, Paris, 1902.

Haendel et le Messie. (Preface to Le Messie de G. F. Haendel by Félix
Raugel.) Dépôt de la Société coöpérative des compositeurs de musique,
Paris, 1912.

Stendhal et la musique. (Preface to La vie de Haydn in the complete
edition of Stendhal's works.) Champion, Paris, 1913.

Preface to Celles qui travaillent by Simone Bodève, Ollendorff, Paris,

Preface to Une voix de femme dans la mêlée by Marcelle Capy, Ollendorff,
Paris, 1916.

Anthologie des poètes contre la guerre. Le Sablier, Genera, 1920.



Saint Louis. (5 acts.) Revue de Paris, March-April, 1897.

Aërt. (3 acts.) Revue de l'art dramatique, Paris, 1898.

Les loups. (3 acts.) Georges Bellais, Paris, 1898.

Le triomphe de la raison. (3 acts.) Revue de l'art dramatique, Paris,

Danton. (3 acts.) Revue de l'art dramatique, Paris, 1900; Cahiers de la
quinzaine, Série II, No. 6, 1901.

Le quatorze juillet. (3 acts.) Cahiers de la quinzaine, Série III, No.
11, Paris, 1902.

Le temps viendra. (3 acts.) Cahiers de la quinzaine, Série IV, No. 14,
Paris, 1903; Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.

Les trois amoureuses. (3 acts.) Revue de l'art dramatique, Paris, 1904.

La Montespan. (3 acts.) Revue de l'art dramatique, Paris, 1904.

Théâtre de la Révolution. Les loups. Danton. Le quatorze juillet.
Hachette, Paris, 1909 (now transferred to Ollendorff).

Les tragédies de la foi. Saint Louis. Aërt. Le triomphe de la raison.
Hachette, Paris, 1909 (now transferred to Ollendorff).

Liluli (with woodcuts by Frans Masereel). Le Sablier, Geneva, 1919;
Ollendorff, Paris, 1920.



Millet. Translated by Clementina Black. Duckworth, London, 1902.

Beethoven. Translated by F. Rothwell. Drane, London, 1907.

Beethoven. Translated by Constance Hull. With a brief analysis of the
sonatas, symphonies, and the quartets, by A. Eaglefield Hull, and 24
musical illustrations and 4 plates and an introduction by Edward
Carpenter. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, London, 1917.

The Life of Michael Angelo. Translated by Frederic Lees. Heinemann,
London, 1912.

Tolstoy. Translated by Bernard Miall. Fisher Unwin, London, 1911.

Some Musicians of former Days. Translated by Mary Blaiklock. Kegan Paul,
Trench, Trubner, London, 1915.

Handel. Translated by A. Eaglefield Hull. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner,
London, 1916.

Musicians of To-day. Translated by Mary Blaiklock. Kegan Paul, Trench,
Trubner, London, 1915.

The People's Theater. Translated by Barrett H. Clark. Holt, New York,
1918; C. Allen & Unwin, London, 1919.

Go to the Ant. (Reflections on reading Auguste Sorel.) Translated by De
Kay. Atlantic Monthly, May, 1919, New York.

Above the Battlefield. With an introduction by G. Lowes Dickinson,
Bowes, Cambridge, 1914.

Above the Battlefield. With an introduction by Rev. Richards Roberts, M.
A. Friends' Peace Committee, London, 1915.

Above the Battle. Translated by C. K. Ogden. G. Allen & Unwin, London,

The Idols. Translated by C. K. Ogden. With a letter by R. Rolland to
Dr. van Eeden on the rights of small nations. Bowes, Cambridge, 1915.

The Forerunners. Translated by Eden & Cedar Paul. G. Allen & Unwin,
London, 1920; Harcourt, Brace, U. S. A., 1920.

The Fourteenth of July and Danton: two plays of the French Revolution.
Translated with a preface by Barrett H. Clarke. Holt, New York, 1918; G.
Allen & Unwin, London, 1919.

Liluli. The Nation, London, Sept 20 to Nov. 29, 1919; Boni & Liveright,
New York, 1920.

Jean Christophe. Translated by Gilbert Cannan. Heinemann, London,
1910-1913; Holt, New York, 1911-1913.

Colas Breugnon. Translated by K. Miller. Holt, New York, 1919.

Clerambault. Translated by K. Miller. Holt, New York. 1921.


Beethoven. Translated by L. Langnese-Hug. Rascher, Zurich, 1917.

Michelangelo. Translated by W. Herzog. Rütten & Loenig, Frankfort, 1918.

Michelangelo. Rascher, Zurich, 1919.

Tolstoi. Translated by W. Herzog. Rütten & Loenig, Frankfort, 1920.

Den hingeschlachteten Völkern, translated by Stefan Zweig. Rascher,
Zurich, 1918.

Au-dessus de la mêlée. Rütten & Loening, Frankfort.

Les précurseurs. Rütten & Loeing, Frankfort, 1920.

Johann Christof. Translated by Otto & Erna Grautoff. Rütten & Loening,
Frankfort, 1912-1918.

Meister Breugnon. Translated by Otto & Etna Grautoff. Rütten & Loening,
Frankfort, 1919.

Clerambault. Translated by Stefan Zweig. Rütten & Loening, Frankfort,

Die Wölfe. Translated by W. Herzog. Müller, Munich, 1914.

Danton. Translated by Lucy von Jacobi and W. Herzog. Müller, Munich,

Die Zeit wird kommen. Translated by Stefan Zweig. "Die Zwölf Bücher,"
Tal, Vienna, 1920.


Vie de Beethoven. Translated by J. R. Jimenez, à la Residentia de
Estudiantes de Madrid, 1914.

Au-dessus de la mêlée. Delgado & Santonja, Madrid, 1916.

Jean-Christophe. Translated by Toro y Gomez. Ollendorff, Paris-Madrid,

Colas Breugnon. Agence de Librairie, Madrid, 1919.


Au-dessus de la mêlée. Avanti, Milan, 1916.

Aux peuples assassinés. Translated by Monanni with drawings by Frans
Masereel. Libreria Internationale, Zurich, 1917.

Jean-Christophe. Translated by Cesare Alessandri. Sonzogno, Milan, 1920.

Vie de Michel-Ange. Translated by Maria Venti Felice le Monnier,
Florence. [In the press.]


Théâtre de la Révolution. Translated by Joseph Goldenberg, St.
Petersburg. 1909.

Théâtre du Peuple. Translated by Joseph Goldenberg. St. Petersburg.

Empédocle d'Agrigente. [In the press.]

Jean-Christophe. Unauthorized translation in 4 vols. Vetcherni Zvon,
Moscow, 1912.

Jean-Christophe. Authorized translation by M. Tchlenoff.


Vie de Beethoven. Branner, Copenhagen, 1915.

Tolstoi. Branner, Copenhagen, 1917.

Musiciens d'aujourd'hui. Denmark & Norway, 1917.

Au-dessus de la mêlée. Lios, Copenhagen, 1916.

Jean-Christophe. Hagerup, Copenhagen, 1916.

Colas Breugnon. Denmark & Norway; Norstedt, Stockholm, 1917.


Vie de Michel-Ange. Translated by M. Kalassova. Prague, 1912.

Danton. 1920.


Vie de Beethoven. Jacewski, Warsaw, 1913.

Jean-Christophe. Translated by Edwige Sienkiewicz. Vols.

I & II, Bibljoteka Sfinska, Warsaw, 1910; the remaining vols., Maski,
Cracow, 1917-19--.


Vie de Beethoven. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm.

Vie de Michelange. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm.

Vie de Tolstoi. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 1916.

Händel. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 1916.

Millet. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 1916.

Musiciens d'aujourd'hui. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt,
Stockholm. 1917.

Musiciens d'autrefois. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm.

Voyage musical au pays du passé. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt,
Stockholm. 1920.

Au-dessus de la mêleé. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm.

Les précurseurs. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 1920.

Théâtre de la Révolution. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Bonnier,
Stockholm. 1917.

Tragédies de la foi. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Bonnier, Stockholm.

Le temps viendra. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm.

Liluli. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Bonnier, Stockholm. 1920.

Jean-Christophe. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Bonnier, Stockholm.

Colas Breugnon. Translated by Mrs. Akermann, Norstedt, Stockholm. 1919.

Clerambault In course of preparation. Bonnier, Stockholm.


Vie de Beethoven, Simon, Amsterdam, 1913.

Jean-Christophe. Brusse, Rotterdam, 1915.

L'aube. Special edition, W. F. J. Tjeenk Willink, Zwolle, 1916.

Colas Breugnon. Meulenhoff, Amsterdam, 1919.


Tolstoi Seichi Naruse, Tokyo, 1916. And many other unauthorized


Beethoven. Translated by Niramos. 1920.



_Jean Bonnerot._ Romain Rolland (Extraits de ses œuvres avec
introduction biographique), Cahiers du Centre, Nevers, 1909.

_Lucien Maury._ Figures littéraires. Perrin, 1911.

_J. H. Retinger._ Histoire de la littérature française du romantisme à
nos jours. B. Grasset, 1911.

_Jules Bertaut._ Les romanciers du nouveau siècle. Sansot, 1912.

_Paul Seippel._ Romain Rolland, l'homme et l'œuvre. Ollendorff, 1913.

_Marc Elder._ Romain Rolland. Paris, 1914

_Robert Dreyfus._ Maîtres contemporains. (Péguy, Claudel, Suarès, Romain
Rolland.) Paris, 1914.

_Daniel Halévy._ Quelques nouveaux maîtres. Cahiers du Centre. Figuière,

_G. Dwelshauvers._ Romain Rolland. Vue caractéristique de l'homme et de
l'œuvre. Ed. de la Belgique artistique et littéraire, Brussels, 1913
or 1914.

_Paul Souday._ Les drames philosophiques de Romain Rolland. Emile Paul,
Paris, 1914.

_Max Hochstätter._ Essai sur l'œuvre de Romain Rolland. Fischbacher,
Paris; Georg & Co., Geneva, 1914.

_Henri Guilbeaux._ Pour Romain Rolland. Jeheber, Geneva, 1915.

_Massis._ Romain Rolland contre la France. Floury, Paris, 1915.

_P. H. Loyson._ Etes-vous neutre devant le crime? Payot, Paris and
Lausanne, 1916.

_Renaitour et Loyson._ Dans la mêlée. Ed. du Bonnet Rouge, 1916.

_Isabelle Debran._ M. Romain Rolland initiateur du défaitisme.
(Introduction de Diodore.) Geneva, 1918.

_Jacques Servance._ Réponse à Mme. Isabelle Debran. Comité d'initiative
en faveur d'une paix durable, Neuchâtel, 1916.

_Charles Baudouin_, Romain Rolland calomnié. Le Carmel, Geneva, 1918.

_Daniel Halévy._ Charles Péguy et les Cahiers de la Quinzaine. Payot,
Paris, 1918 et seq.

_Paul Colin._ Romain Rolland, Bruxelles, 1920.

_P. J. Jouve._ Romain Rolland vivant, Ollendorff, 1920.


_Otto Grautoff._ Romain Rolland, Frankfurt, 1914.

_Winifred Stephens._ French Novelists of To-day. Second series. J. Lane,
London and New York, 1915.

_Albert L. Guerard._ Five Masters of French Romance. Scribner, New York,

_Dr. J. Ziegler._ Romain Rolland in "Johann Christof," über Juden und
Judentum. v. Dr. Ziegler, Rabbiner in Karlsbad. Vienna, 1918.

_Agnes Darmesteter._ Twentieth Century French Writers. London, 1919.

_Blumenfeld._ Etude sur Romain Rolland, en langue yiddisch. Cahiers de
littérature et d'art. Paris, 1920.

_Albert Schinz._ French Literature of the War. Appleton, New York, 1920.

_Pedro Cesare Dominici._ De Lutecia, Arte y Critica. Ollendorff, Madrid.

_Papini._ Studii di Romain Rolland. Florence, 1916.

_F. F. Curtis._ Die literarischen Wegbereiter des neuen Frankreichs.
Kiepenheuer, Potsdam, 1920.

_Walter Küchler._ Vier Vorträge über R. Rolland, Henri Barbusse, Fritz
v. Unruh. Würzburg, 1919.


_Paul Dupin._ Jean-Christophe. (Trois pièces pour piano.)

1. L'oncle Gottfried (dialogue avec Christophe).

2. Méditation sur un passage du "Matin."

3. Berceuse de Louisa. Chant du Pélerin (piano et chant). Paroles de
Paul Gerhardt Ed. Demets, Paris, 1907.

_Paul Dupin._ Jean-Christophe. (Suite pour quatuor à cordes.)

1. La mort de l'oncle Gottfried.

2. Bienvenue au petit Ed. Senart et Roudanez, Paris, 1908.

_Paul Dupin._ Pastorale, Sabine. 1. Dans le Jardinet. Piano et quatuor.
Transcription pour piano et violon. Ed. Senart et Roudanez, Paris, 1908.

_Albert Doyen._ Le Triomphe de la Liberté. (Scène finale du Quatorze
Juillet). Prix de la ville de Paris, 1913. (Soli, Orchestre et Choeurs.)
Ed. A. Leduc, Paris.


_Above the Battle_, 266, 290, 291, 293-6, 297, 305, 329.

Abbesse de Jouarre, l', 125.

_Aërt_, 66, 73, 77-8, 83-5, 87, 112.

Aërt, 77-8, 83-5, 121, 125, 161, 198, 244, 260, 347.

Antoinette, in _Jean Christophe_, 4, 165, 175, 212, 224.

Arcos, René, 312, 313.

Art, love of, and love of mankind, 20;
  epic quality in Rolland's, 63-66, 67 ff;
  moral force in Rolland's, 63 ff;
  Tolstoi's views on, 18-20;
  universality of, 26.

_Au-dessus de la mêlée, see Above the Battle._

_Aux peuples assassinés_, 332.

Bach, Friedemann, 173.

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 173, 245.

_Ballades françaises_, 250.

Balzac, 64, 65, 169, 177, 250.

Barrès, Maurice, 59, 62.

Baudouin, Charles, 313.

_Beethoven_, 50, 137 ff, 140-3, 150.

Beethoven, 10, 18, 19, 40, 45, 67, 104, 140-143, 144, 145, 147, 148,
151, 161, 163, 172, 174, 175, 182, 245, 252, 325, 328;
  festival, 35, influence of, on Rolland's childhood, 5 ff;
  Jean Christophe's resemblance to, 173.

_Beginnings of Opera, The_, 34.

_Belgique sanglante, la_, 282.

Berlioz, 10, 150.

Bibliography, 357 ff.

Biographies, heroic, 133-53;
  unwritten, 150-3.

Bonn, 35, 140, 141.

Brahms, 174.

Bréal, Michel, 35.

Breugnon, Colas, in _Colas Breugnon_, 241-53, 319;
  spiritual kinship of, with Jean Christophe, 244-48;
  see _Colas Breugnon_.

Brunetière, 16.

Burckhardt, Jakob, 16.

Byron, 275.

"_Cahiers de la quinzaine_," 20, 40, 43, 50, 143.

_Caligula_, 73.

"_Carmel, le_," 313.

Carnot, 99.

Claes, in _Aërt_, 87.

Clamecy, birthplace of Rolland, 3, 4, 99.

Claudel, Paul, 89, 44, 59.

_Clerambault, l'histoire d'une conscience libre pendant la guerre_,

Clerambault, Agenor, in _Clerambault_, 310, 339-347.

Clerambault, Maxime, 343 ff.

Clifford, General, in _A Day Will Come_, 120, 121, 125.

_Colas Breugnon_, 241-253, 337;
  as an artistic production, 249-51;
  gauloiseries in, 249-51;
  origin of, 241-43.

Comédie Française, 71, 74.

Conscience, story of, in Clerambault, 339-47;
  _see_ Freedom of conscience.

Corneille, 91, 92.

Couthon, 99.

_Credo quia verum_, 16, 17.

Corinne, in _Jean Christophe_, 211.

Cycles, of Rolland, 67-71.

D'Alembert, 87.

_Danse des morts_, 312.

_Danton_, 41, 101, 106-9, 113, 117.

Danton, 99, 106-9, 113, 126.

Debrit, Jean, 313.

Debussy, 35, 175.

Declaration of the independence of the mind, 351-354.

Decsey, Ernest, 174.

Defeat, significance of, in Rolland's philosophy of life, 61, 62, 83 ff,
110 ff, 134 ff, 139.

"Defeatism," 297-303.

De Maguet, Claude, 313.

"_Demain_," 313.

Deprès, Suzanne, 175.

Desmoulins, 126.

Desprès, Fernand, 312.

_Deutscher Musiker in Paris, Ein_, 174.

"_Deutsche Rundschau, Die_," 305.

_Don Carlos_, 101.

Dostoievsky, 2, 346.

Doyen, 105.

D'Oyron, in _The Wolves_, 114.

Drama, and the masses, _see_ People's Theater;
  erotic _vs._ political, 127 ff;
  Drama of the Revolution, 69, 70, 86-99, 100-18.

Dramatic writings, of Rolland, 25, 32, 39, 41, 57-130;
  craftsmanship of, 127-130;
  cycles, 67-71;
  Drama of the Revolution, 100-130;
  People's Theater, 85-130;
  poems, 28;
  tragedies of faith, 76-85;
  unknown cycle, 71-75.

_Drames philosophiques_, 125.

Dreyfus affair, 38, 39, 106, 115, 119, 133.

Dunois, Amédée, 312.

Duse, Eleanore, 175.

_Empédocle d'Agrigente et l'âge de la haine_, 72, 333 ff.

_Etes-vous neutre devant le crime_, 283.

Faber, in _Le triomphe de la raison_, 111, 114, 309.

Faith, in Rolland's philosophy of life, 77-79, 81 ff, 166-71, 244 ff;
  tragedies of, 76-85.

Fellowship, of free spirits, during the war, 273 ff, 311-316: 351, 354.

_Fêtes de Beethoven, les_, 141.

"_Feuille, la_," 313.

Flaubert, 37, 58, 80, 177.

_Forerunners, The_, 290, 339-334

Fort, Paul, 250.

_Fourteenth of July, The_, 101-2, 103-5, 109.

France, after 1870, 57;
  picture of, in _Jean Christophe_, 211-216

France, Anatole, 58, 84, 169.

Frank, César, 175.

Frank, Ludwig, 321.

Freedom, of conscience, 287 ff, 257-9, 119, 274, 285-8, 298 ff, 320 ff,
  _vs._ the fatherland, _see The Triumph of Reason_.

French literature, state of, after 1870, 37, 58 ff.

French Revolution, 68, 98 ff, 100-120, 121, 122;
  _see_ Drama of the
  _also_ People's Theater. French stage, after 1870, 86-89.

_Galeries des femmes de Shakespeare_, 6.

Gamache, in _Jean Christophe_, 175.

"Gauloiseries," 250.

Generations, conflicting ideas of the 229-234.

Geneva, during the   Great War, 268 ff.

Germany, picture of, in _Jean Christophe_, 217-220.

Girondists, in _The Triumph of Reason_, 110 ff, 121, 129, 169, 260.

_Gli Baglioni_, 73, 74.

Gluck, 173, 175, 212.

Goethe, 64, 72, 97, 118, 150, 155, 169, 175, 177, 180, 211, 184, 193,
219, 230, 263, 275, 278, 305, 330, 332.

Gottfried, in _Jean Christophe_, 204.

Grautoff, 166, 168.

Grazia, in _Jean Christophe_, 175, 200-202, 205.

Greatness, will to, in Rolland's philosophy, 63.

Great War, The, 1, 65, 257-355, 253, 264 ff, 339-347.

Greek tragedy, method of, 128 ff

_Grüne Heinrich, Der_, 169.

Guilbeaux, Henri, 281, 313.

_Haendel_, 34.

Handel, 150, 173, 175, 245.

Hatred Holland's campaign against, 297-304;
  Verhaeren's attitude of, during the war, 281-4.

Hauptmann, 92, 276;
  Rolland's controversy with, 277-280.

Hardy, Thomas, 64.

Hassler in _Jean Christophe_, 174, 204.

Hebbel, 73, 123.

Hecht, in _Jean Christophe_, 175.

Heroes of suffering, 133-153.

Heroic biographies, 133-153.

Herzen, 26.

Historical drama, _see_ People's Theater.

History, and the People's Theater, 95 ff;
  Rolland's conception of, 95 ff;
  sense of, in early writings, 32.

Hoche, General, 150.

Hölderlin, 73.

Hugot, in _The Triumph of Reason_, 63, 111, 114.

Hugo, Victor, 37, 64, 92, 121.

_Idoles les_, 299.

"Iliad of the French People," _see_ People's Theater.

_Illusions perdues, les_, 65.

_Inter Arma Caritas_, 297.

_Iphigenia_, 118.

Italy, picture of, in _Jean Christophe_, 221-3.

Idealism, in Rolland's philosophy, 60 ff, 85, 123, 166-71;
  characterization of Germany, 211-216;
  of Italy, 222.

Internationalism, 207-10, 255, 285-8, 351-4;
  _see Above the Battle_;
  Fellowship, of free spirits;
  Hatred, Rolland's campaign against

Ibsen, 126 ff.

Italy, Rolland's sojourn in, 23-28, 71.

Jaurès, 13, 41, 109, 346.

_Jean Christophe_, 18, 30, 36, 49, 65, 70, 130, 143, 157-237, 165, 257,
300, 305, 311, 318, 339, 340;
  as an educational romance, 166-71;
  characters of, 172-5;
  enigma of creative work, 181-7;
  France, picture of, in, 211-16;
  generations, conflicting ideas of, in 229-34;
  Germany, picture of, in, 217-220;
  Italy, picture of, in 221-3;
  Jews, the, in, 224-8;
  message of, 157-159;
  music, form and content of, 177-80;
  origin of 162-5;
  writing of, 43-44, 162-5.

Jean Christophe, 26, 31, 38, 40, 42, 43, 49, 50, 65, 68, 76, 97, 153,
157-237, 241, 246, 257, 258, 260, 317, 336, 340, 342;
  and Grazia, 200-1;
  and his fellow men, 203-6;
  and his generation, 229-36;
  and the nations, 207-10;
  apostle of force, 189 ff;
  as the artist and creator, 188-94;
  character of, 172-75;
  contrast to Olivier, 195 ff.

Jouve, 287, 312, 313.

Justice, problem of, considered by Rolland in Dreyfus case, 39;
  _vs._ the fatherland, _see The Wolves_.

Kaufmann, Emil, 174.

Keller, Gottfried, 169, 177.

Kleist, 73, 92.

Kohn, Sylvain, in _Jean Christophe_, 212, 224.

Krafft, Jean Christophe, _see_ Jean Christophe.

Language, as obstacle to internationalism, 229 ff.

Lazare, Bernard, 39, 143.

_Lebens Abend einer Idealistin, Der_, 27, 73.

_Légende de Saint Julien l'Hospitalier_, 80.

Letters, of Rolland, during war, 317-19.

Lévy-Coeur, in _Jean Christophe_, 175, 205, 224.

_Le 14 Juillet_, _see Fourteenth of July, The_.

Liberty, characterization of France, 211-16.

_Life of Michael Angelo, The_, 40, 144-46.

_Life of Timolien_, 131.

_Liluli_, 300, 335-338, 339.

_Loups, les, see The Wolves._

Lux, Adams, 101, 111, 112, 309.

Lyceum of Louis the Great, 8.

Madame Bovary, 64.

Mahler, Gustave, 35, 175.

Mannheim, Judith, in _Jean Christophe_, 226.

Marat, 101.

Martinet, Marcel, 312.

Masereel, Franz, 313.

Maupassant, 13, 37, 58, 64, 91.

Mazzini, 26, 150, 151, 222.

_Meistersinger, Die_, 92.

Mesnil, Jacques, 312.

Meunier, 87.

_Meutre des élites, le_, 297.

Meyerbeer, 212.

Michelangelo, 67, 71, 144-6, 147, 148, 151, 161, 182, 245.

Michelet, 13.

Millet, 87, 50.

Mirbeau, 85.

Molière, 92.

Monod Gabriel, 13, 16, 26, 73.

_Mon Oncle Benjamin_, 3.

_Montespan, la_, 73, 119.

Mooch, in _Jean Christophe_, 224.

Moreas, 175.

Mornet, Lieutenant, 306.

Mounet-Sully, 74.

Mozart, 5, 173.

Music, early influence of, on Rolland, 4;
  form and content in _Jean Christophe_, 177-80;
  part of Rolland's drama, 104 ff;
  Rolland's love of, 47;
  Rolland's philosophy of, 132-3;
  Tolstoi's stigmatization of 19.

_Musiciens d'autrefois_, 34, 35, 183.

Nationalistic school of writers 59, 60, 62.

Nationalism, 208 ff; 217-20, 225, 226.

Naturalism, 15.

"Neues Vaterland," 306.

Nietzsche, 2, 26, 37, 162, 174, 177, 217-20, 255, 332.

_Niobé_, 73, 74.

Nobel peace prize, 270.

Normal School, 10, 11, 12-17, 13, 14, 23, 29, 32, 162.

_Notre prochain l'ennemi_, 297.

Novalis, 169.

Offenbach, 212.

Olivier, in _Jean Christophe_, 61, 68, 76, 78, 84, 176, 179, 195-9, 200,
201, 205, 214 ff, 220, 224, 225, 233, 244, 246, 257, 260, 264, 267, 283,
309, 318, 336 340.

Olivier, Georges, in _Jean Christophe_, 233.

_Offiziere, Die_, 85.

_Oration on Shakespeare_, 72.

_Orfeo_, 33.

_Origines du théâtre lyrique moderne, les_, 32, 183.

_Orsino_, 72, 74.

Oudon, Françoise, in _Jean Christophe_, 75.

Pacifism, 262 ff.

Paine, Thomas 9, 7, 150.

Parsifal, 30, 31, 62, 191.

Péguy, Charles, 14, 20, 38, 39, 59, 115, 143.

People's Theater, The, 41, 65, 133, 68, 88, 94-97.

Philippe, Charles Louis, 44, 91.

Philosophy of life, of Rolland, _see_ Art of Rolland;
  Defeat, significance of;
  Freedom of Conscience;
  Greatness will to;
  Hatred, campaign against;
  Struggle, element of;
  Suffering, significance of.

Picquart, 39, 115.

Perrotin, in _Clerambault_, 344.

Pioch, Georges, 312.

Polichinelle, in _Liluli_, 337.

_Précurseurs, les, see The Forerunners._

_Prêtre de Nemi, le_, 125.

_Prinz von Homburg, Der_, 92.

Provenzale, Francesco, 34.

Quesnel, in _Les Loups_, 114.

Racine, 91, 92.

_Räuber, Die_, 92.

Red Cross, in Switzerland, 268 ff, 269 ff.

Renaissance, 24, 25, 68, 71.

Renaitour, 312.

Renan, 12, 13, 25, 37, 125 ff, 176, 196, 214, 309.

"_Revue de l'art dramatique_," 35, 88.

"_Revue de Paris_," 25, 141.

Robespierre, 99, 101, 108, 113, 117, 126.

Rolland, Madeleine, 3.

Rolland, Romain, academic life of, in Paris, 32-35, 42;
  of, 3-11;
  ancestry of, 3;
  and his epoch, 57-62;
  and the European spirit, 52, 53;
  appeal to President Wilson, 348-50;
  as embodiment of European spirit, 52-3;
  art of, 63-6;
  at Paris, 32-5, 36;
  attitude of, during the war, 257-355;
  campaign of, against hatred 297-303;
  childhood of, 3-7;
  controversy of, with Hauptmann, 277-80;
  correspondence of, with Verhaeren 281-4;
  cycles of 67-75;
  diary of, during the war, 327-28;
  drama of the revolution, 100-30;
  dramatic writings, 25, 28, 57, 130;
  Dreyfus case, 38-47;
  fame, 49, 50, 51, 48;
  father of, 6;
  friendships, 13-15, 25, 26-28, 311-316;
  heroic biographies, 133-153;
  humanitarianism of, 307 ff;
  idealism of, 60 ff;
  influence of, during the war, 320-326, 355-6;
  influence of Tolstoi on, 19-22;
  Jean Christophe, 157-237;
  letters of, during the war, 317-319;
  marriage of, 35, 41, 73, 134;
  mass suggestion in writings of, 261, 266, 329-47;
  mother of, 3, 27;
  newspaper writing of 289-292;
  opponents of, during the war, 304-10;
  portrait of, 46, 47;
  rôle of, in fellowship of free spirits during the war, 273 ff;
  Rome, 23, 28;
  schooling of 5-17;
  seclusion, 43, 44, 45-7, 48-49, 324;
  significance of life work, 2;
  tragedies of faith, 76-85;
  unwritten biographies, 150-153.

Rossi, Ernesto, 24.

Rossi, Luigi, 33.

Rostand, 117.

Rouanet, 312.

Rousseau, 275.

Roussin, in _Jean Christophe_, 176.

_Route en lacets qui monte, la_, 330.

St. Christophe, 157.

Saint-Just, _pseud._, 39, 84, 101, 108, 113, 126.

_Saint Louis_, 77-8, 80-82, 83, 125, 244.

Salviati, 24.

Suarès, André, 14, 15, 39.

Scarlatti, Alessandro, 34.

Schermann, 330.

Scheurer, Kestner, 39, 115.

Schiller, 73, 86, 87, 90, 92, 95, 97, 100-1, 123, 155, 193, 196.

Schubert, 175, 180.

Schulz, Prof. in _Jean Christophe_, 174, 204.

Seippel, Paul, 50, 165, 172.

Sévérine, 312.

Shakespeare, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 18, 23, 24, 15, 64, 69, 72, 92, 100, 123,
125, 150.

Sidonie, in _Jean Christophe_, 213.

_Siege de Mantoue, le_, 73.

Sorbonne, 32, 33.

_Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse_, 12.

Spinoza, 10, 13, 18.

Stendhal, 169, 177.

Strauss, Hugo, 35.

Strindberg, 2, 126 ff.

Struggle, element of, in Rolland's philosophy, 222, 246 ff.

Suffering, significance of, in Rolland's philosophy, 133-136, 181-7,
188-94; 204 ff;
  heroes of 133-53.

Switzerland, refuge of Rolland during the war, 264-7.

_"Tablettes, les,"_ 313.

_Tasso_, 118.

Teulier, in _The Wolves_, 114, 115, 121, 310.

_Théâtre du peuple, le, see_ People's Theatre.

Thiesson, Gaston, 312.

Tillier, Claude, 3.

Tolstoi, 18, 20, 21, 23, 15, 24, 53, 60, 64, 67, 82, 86, 87, 90, 92, 94,
135, 138, 147-149, 151, 161, 165, 170, 175, 176, 182, 204, 245, 255,
265, 300, 317, 320, 333.

_To the Undying Antigone_, 27.

_Tragédies de la foi, les, see Tragedies of Faith._

_Tragedies of Faith_, 69, 76-83, 76.

"Tribunal of the spirit," _see_ Fellowship.

_Triumph of Reason, The_, 63, 101, 102, 113, 114, 119.

_Trois Amoureuses, les_, 173.

Truth, in _Liluli_, 337.

Unknown dramatic cycle, 71-75.

Verhaeren, 44, 77, 175, 276, 311;
  Rolland's   correspondence with, 281-84.

_Vie de Beethoven, see Beethoven._

_Vie de Tolstoi, see Tolstoi._

_Vie de Michel-Ange, la, see Life of Michael Angelo, The._

_Vie des hommes illustres_, 301.

Von Kerich, Frau, in _Jean Christophe_, 173, 204.

Von Meysenbug, Malwida, 26, 27, 28, 29, 29-31, 73, 150, 162.

Von Unruh, Fritz, 85.

_Vorreden Material im Nachlass_, 255.

_Vous êtes des hommes_, 312.

Wagner, 2, 9, 10, 14, 26, 29, 30, 31, 37, 64, 92, 162, 174, 212.

_Wahrheit und Dichtung_, 175.

_War and Peace_, 64, 170.

War, dominant theme in Rolland's plays, 28;
  of the generations, 229-234;
  in Rolland's writings, 260 ff.

_Weber, Die_, 92, 277.

Weil, in _Jean Christophe_, 224.

_What is to be Done?_ 18.

_Wilhelm Meister_, 155, 168.

William the Silent, 66.

Wilson, President, 348-50.

Wolf, Hugo, 35, 150, 174.

Wolff's news agency, 277.

_Wolves, The_, 39, 101, 102, 113, 114.

Zola, 15, 58, 85, 87, 39, 91, 115, 177.

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