Merle, Robert Jean Georges

Merle, Robert Jean Georges


Born Aug. 29, 1908, in Tébessa, Algeria. French writer.

The son of an army officer, Merle received a degree in literature in Paris. He fought in World War II and spent three years in a prison camp.

Merle made his literary debut with his critical study Oscar Wilde (1948). He translated works by J. Webster, J. Swift, and E. Caldwell into French and in 1949 published the antiwar novel A Sunday Outing on the Southern Coast (Prix Goncourt, 1949; Russian translation, Weekend at the Seashore, 1969). In the novels Death Is My Profession (1953; Russian translation, 1963 and 1969) and The Island (1962; Russian translation, 1963) and in the play Sisyphus and Death (1950), Merle examines the problem of violence, the attitude toward war, and the individual’s personal responsibility for all that takes place in society. From pacifism and abstract humanism, Merle comes to accept the necessity of violent revolution. His Moncada: The First Battle of Fidel Castro (1965; Russian translation, 1968) is written in the style of documentary prose. In the novel Behind the Glass (1970; Russian translation, 1972), Merle gives an hour-by-hour description of the day Mar. 22, 1968, at the University of Nanterre. While acknowledging that bourgeois schools cripple the personality, Merle maintains that leftist-extremist adventurism in no way promises genuine emancipation either.


Théâtre, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1950–57.
Malevil [Paris, 1972.]
In Russian translation:
Razumnoe zhivotnoe. Moscow, 1959.


Evnina, E. M. Sovremennyi frantsuzskii roman 1940–1960. Moscow, 1962. (with bibliography.)
Evnina, E. M. “Knigi R. Merlia.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1964, no. 9.
Zonina, L. A. “Etot ostrov—bol’shaia zemlia.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1963, no. 2.
Zonina, L. A. “V poiskakh iazyka.” Voprosy literatury, 1972, no. 8.
Stil, A. “Vivre à vingt ans.” L’Humanité, Nov. 5, 1970, p. 10.
Wurmser, A. “Derrière la vitre.” Les Letttres françaises, 1970, Nov. 4–10, pp. 6–7.