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J.-H. Rosny

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

1 Décembre 2013, 17:27pm

Publié par Fabrice Mundzik

"French Essays and Profiles", par Stuart Henry, fut publié en 1921 par E. P. Dutton Eff Company.

Au sommaire, différents dossiers, ainsi que des biobiliographies de Jules Claretie, François Coppée, Coquelin the Elder, Dumas the Elder, Dumas the Younger, Judith Gautier, Henry Gréville, Gyp, Jeanne Hugo, Jules Lemaître, Pierre Loti, Rosita Mauri, Frédéric Mistral, Georges Pellisier, Edouard Rod, Rosny the Elder, Victorien Sardou.

L'ouvrage s'ouvre sur une Note précisant que :

"Certain of these articles have appeared in The Bookman and The Criterion of New York and in The Contemporary Review and St. James's Budget of London.

Most of the subjects of the Profiles have been personal acquaintances of the author."

Voici la retranscription des 5 pages sur J.-H. Rosny aîné :


Rosny the Elder is the literary name of Joseph Henry Boex with whom his younger brother Justin collaborated under the combined name of J.-H. Rosny. He is a Naturalistic novelist who was born in Brussels, lived in London, then settled in Paris. He is a member of the Goncourt Academy. His fiction portrays Socialism, the Salvation Army and kindred themes, dealing with the life of the poor and the laboring classes. He opposed the extreme Realism of Zola. Rosny is not given to detail. He is interested mainly in effective but uncomplicated presentations of characters and subjects.


Taken altogether Rosny is, in his manner, didactic with tolerance, digressive while being characteristically logical and lucid, concentrated and precise without closing to the future or the possible any of the windows of his soul.

It was at a little soiree of M. Durand, the husband of Henry Greville, that I met the elder Rosny. I had taken him for a college professor as I noticed him conversing, in an earnest, absorbed, strenuous way, across the room. His black beard and hair contrasted with the dead pallor of his skin ; he had the erudite stoop ; he wore that unhealthy air which comes from a congestion of study. In venturing to chat with him later in the evening, I confirmed his instructing, persuasive manner in talking, and his care in being perfectly clear. He uses English well, for he long lived in London, and married an English lady.

When I went into the refreshment room at M. Durand's, the fragmentary conversation was displaying couleurs de rose, as is natural under such circumstances, and Rosny was beginning : "I am an optimist because" — but, unfortunately, he was interrupted at this point by incomers who inadvertently silenced the sentence, I, for one, was sorry at the time not to learn Rosny's reasons for his optimism, since it was the fashion with the younger literary Frenchmen of the epoch to be dyed in, or tinctured with, pessimism.

It happened that I came downstairs with him that night in the rue de Crenelle. I saw him wrap himself thickly in his overcoat and turn south on his way to his home in the rue Didot through the empty, lonesome streets of southwest Paris — off toward the Pasteur Institute and among the anarchists (now ex-anarchists) whom Rosny had studied so carefully. I should have feared this journey at such a late hour, for there were ruffians in that homely, half-despairing quarter of the city.

Rosny wrote in collaboration with a junior brother, and their fiction was put forth under the style of J.-H. Rosny. Personally they did not court publicity. No photograph of them was to be found anywhere, and their names were rarely mentioned in the press.

Two or three weeks afterward, Rosny the Elder honored me by a call one evening. He told us of the story he was writing about the invisible beings that, he fancied, live among us on this planet [Note : Il s'agit de "Un Autre monde"], rub shoulders with us, and exist for one another and not for us, as we exist for one another and not for them — a sort of Xipehuz.

I was tempted to ask him who had written the best essay on the Rosny novels. "M. Pellissier," he replied. "His essay is, on the whole, just. It notes my real defects as a writer and appreciates my good points. But — I don't know why it is or should be so — the critics take too long to say a little. At least it seems so to me. And then they are apt to magnify your short comings and minimize your commendable qualities. They will remark, 'He is not a bad fellow and does creditable work,' in one paragraph, and then detail and enlarge upon your failings in ten paragraphs. This leaves inevitably a disproportioned, and therefore unfair, impression in the mind of the reader."

Rosny thought that the ancient classics and the Louis XIV classics assume too important a role in French education and in French civilization. For him, France is too universitaire. He was forced, as a boy, to read only French books of the 17th century. There were no others in his father's library.

In spite of himself, Rosny is discursive in his conversation and oral discussions. He is often obliged to force himself to return to his subject, and this leaves him visibly dissatisfied that the hours are so short and words so exclusive and imperfect. For his brain teems with ideas and conceits, and with the most recently ascertained or adopted facts in many branches of knowledge. Each suggestion awakes a thousand other suggestions in his mind ; each fancy points to a thousand other fancies across his vision.

He longs to give voice to it all — to delve, to roam, to explore, to soar ; but Time is ever nudging his elbow and he must hurry away to whatever narrow task he happens to have in hand. Rosny is one of the few great Frenchmen I ever met who are manifestly rushed in something like our American fashion — never beginning, never ending, never really halting.

As my lamplight shone on his face from my study table that evening, I watched his wide eyes and his bloodless, intellectual face. It is very broad at the temples, in indication, I suppose, of his comprehensive mind. He has a way of smacking his lips a little — drawing them together and apart — as he attempts to express exactly his thought.

One afternoon a month later, he sent me a copy of "L'Autre Femme." I read it the same day. In it the two brother analysts deal with Woman from the French standpoint still (i. e., husband, wife and mistress), but with the fact in view that the Teutonic races are the most aggressive and prolific and yet tend to monogamy.

This novel is a firm, transparent, psychological study of the terrible moral effect of a liaison on the lover, his wife and their children. The subject is the menage of the wife, and not that of the mistress as is the rule in Parisian fiction. The erring lover is, in this case, an intelligent, serious man who finds his monogamic instinct at war with his polygamous instinct. In his endeavor to reason to a valid and self-satisfying conclusion, he inevitably fails, and falls back on the traditional argument which he recognizes as stupid namely, "the right of man because he is a man." This volume is a modest link in the modern evolution of
the monogamic impulse in French literature.

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

Stuart Henry "French Essays and Profiles" (E. P. Dutton Eff Company - 1921)

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