Georges Duhamel


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Duhamel, Georges

 

Born June 30, 1884, in Paris; died Apr. 13, 1966, in Valmondois. French writer; member of the Académie Française from 1935. Of petit bourgeois origin and by education a physician.

Duhamel was one of the founders of the artistic group VAbbaye (1906). He wrote poetry (the collections Legends, Battles, 1907; Companions, 1912), plays (Light, 1911; Combat, 1913), and critical studies (Paul Claudel, 1913; Poets and Poetry, 1914). Duhamel made his poetic debut as an exponent of unanimism. The realistic short stories in The New Book of Martyrs (1917; Russian translation, 1924) and Civilization (1918; Goncourt Prize; Russian translation, 1924) and the ballads in Elegies (1920) condemn World War I (1914-18) from a pacifist standpoint (as does the farce Lapointe and Ropiteau, 1919). He rejected the revolutionary reconstruction of society in the essay “Talks in Chaos” (1919) and defended the “spirit’s independence” of politics.

A duality runs through Duhamel’s work. He severely criticised Nietzschean “saviors” of mankind (the comedy Fellowship of Athletes, 1920), deplored the colonial war in Morocco (his statement in the journal Clarté on July 15, 1925, no. 76), was interested in the building of a new world (the essays Journey to Moscow, 1927), and denounced American “mercenary dictatorship” (the essays America, the Menace, 1930). Nevertheless, Duhamel feared the revolutionary activity of the masses. His cycle of novels Salavin (5 vols., 1920-32) portrays the “little man’s” tragic striving for spiritual self-awareness and social action. As a response to the threat of the standardization of life (the essay “The Humanist and the Automatic,” 1933) and to the spiritual crisis of the West (the essay “The Defense of Literature,” 1937), Duhamel offers only the contemplation of the miracle of life itself (Tales of My Garden, 1936).

Duhamel saw the danger of fascism (Diary of the White War, 1939). His books of notes (French Positions, 1940) and records of war (Place of Refuge, 1940) were burned by the fascist occupiers, whom he strongly condemned in the article “On the Ruins of Morality: Oradour-sur-Glane” (1944). The themes of his realistic series of novels The Chronicle of the Pasquier Family (10 vols., 1933-44) are spiritual oppression, the power of money, and the crisis of bourgeois society. In his novel The Journey of Patrice Périot (1950) he revealed the reactionary demagoguery of the cold war. He is the author of an atomic-age Utopian novel, The Passengers of the “Hope” (1953), and a detective novel, The Théophile Complex (1958). Of note are his memoirs, Lights on My Life (5 vols., 1945-53).

WORKS

Nouvelles du Sombre empire. Paris, 1960.
In Russian translation:
Teoriia svobodnogo stikha. Moscow, 1920. (With Sh. Vil’drak,)
Polunochnaia ispoved’. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923.
Dvoe. Leningrad, 1925.
Dnevnik Salavena. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
“Ballada o soldatskoi smerti.” In Sovremennaia revoliutsionnaia poeziia Zapada. With a foreword by A. V. Lunacharskii. Moscow, 1930.

REFERENCES

Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Maurois, A. “Georges Duhamel.” A la page, 1966, no. 28.
Georges Duhamel, 1884-1966. [Paris] 1967. (Includes bibliography.)

V. P. BALASHOV

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References in periodicals archive ?
Georges Duhamel, Scenes de la vie future (Paris: Edition mille et une nuits, 2003) 39.
Su extraordinario libro postumo, La novela luminosa (2005), admite ser leido como un manual de santidad en sentido casi identico a como cabe decir esto, con toda solemnidad, del libro que desde aqui recomiendo leer y releer cuantas veces sea posible: el Diario de un aspirante a santo (1927), del hoy casi olvidado escritor frances Georges Duhamel (1884-1966).
He supports his argument through readings of handful of interwar French intellectuals including Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, brother of the famous marine biologist and author of Jewish America; Georges Duhamel, author of America the Menace (whose French title translates as "Scene from Life in the Future"); Emmanuel Mounier, the founder of the journal Esprit whose anti-Americanism remained intact through shifting political ideals; and novelist George Bernanos, who similarly maintained his anti-Americanism through shifting political beliefs and associations.
Hace tiempo, a proposito de la reedicion en espanol de otro gran novelista, Georges Duhamel, Christopher Dominguez se preguntaba (nunca supe si con escandalo o con ironia) de que servia volver a publicar a un autor como Duhamel, que era tanto como querer volver a publicar a Georges Bernanos.
2) Arlette Lafay, La Sagesse de Georges Duhamel (Paris: Minard, 1984), p.
The group included the writers Charles Vildrac and Georges Duhamel.
In 1930, Georges Duhamel had written a book translated as America the Menace, and the enthusiasm for American fiction which characterized the French literary scene in post-war France had been directed at writers who, like Don Passos, Faulkner, Hemingway or Henry Miller, were profoundly critical of modern America.
1910, Louis Pergaud, De Goupil a Margot; 1911, Alphonse de Chateaubriant, Monsieur des Lourdines; 1912, AndreSavignon, Filles de la pluie; 1913, Marc Elder, Le Peuple de la mer; 1914, Adrien Bertrand, L'Appel du sol; 1915, Rene Benjamin, Gaspard; 1916, Henri Barbusse, Le Feu; 1917, Henri Malherbe, La Flamme au poing; 1918, Georges Duhamel, Civilisation; 1919, Marcel Proust, Al ' ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs;
Diaries have been indicted as unwholesome, cowardly, worthless, sterile, shriveling, and feminine by the likes of Goethe, Ernest Renan, Georges Duhamel, and Maurice Blanchot, but they have also been brilliantly championed by Philippe Lejeune, who has devoted his career to studying personal writing.
After 1935, despite a brief flourish under the editorship of Georges Duhamel, the Mercure fell into decline, and it finally ceased publication in 1965.
Petit Traite de versification (1923; "Small Treatise on Versification"), by Romains and Georges Chenneviere, and Notes sur la technique poetique (1910; "Notes on Poetic Technique"), by Georges Duhamel and Charles Vildrac, outlined the Unanimiste theories of prosody, which resembled those of the American poet Walt Whitman in encouraging the use of strongly accented rhythms and the replacement of symbols and allegory by simple and unadorned diction.