Henri-René Lenormand Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Henri-René Lenormand’s reputation rests almost exclusively on his plays, but during his career, he published collections of stories, novels, memoirs, and literary criticism. His memoirs, Les Confessions d’un auteur dramatique (confessions of a playwright) were published in two volumes, the first in 1949, the second in 1953, two years after his death.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Henri-René Lenormand deserves to be better known than he is at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Although copies of his plays are difficult to find, even in France, his plays were very popular in the 1920’s and early 1930’s—not only in France but also in England and in many European countries. His theater seemed to reflect the dark mood that gripped Europe after World War I. In the tone and ideas in his theater—the dreamlike ambience of his settings and his introspective, haunted characters—he represents the theatrical avant-garde of his day and prepared the way for such later twentieth century French playwrights as Jean Anouilh, Samuel Beckett, and Eugène Ionesco.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Dickman, Adolphe-Jacques, and Henriette Moussiegt. Introduction to Le Temps est un songe. New York: The Century Company, 1929. Also contains a brief preface by Lenormand himself and a brief bibliography of early Lenormand criticism. The book is a student edition, and despite its age, is a good point of departure for readers unfamiliar with Lenormand. Contains helpful notes and a student-level glossary.

Hyman, Ann. Introduction to Les Ratés. In Anthology of Twentieth Century French Theater, edited by Jacques Guicharnaud. New York: Paris Book Center, 1967. A fine succinct overview of Lenormand’s life and career. Includes a brief analysis of Les Ratés and a good bibliography of Lenormand’s work and a few secondary sources.

Jones, Robert Emmet. “Desire and Death in the Plays of Lenormand.” French Review 30 (1956): 138-142. Essay on two important, perhaps fundamental themes in Lenormand’s work.

Jones, Robert Emmet. H.-R. Lenormand. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Still the definitive work in English on Lenormand. Essentially a convincing and fair defense of the playwright’s contributions to drama. Jones comments on the weaknesses of Lenormand’s work but insists that his drama has been unjustly neglected.

Jones, Robert Emmet. “The Lower Depths.” In The Alienated Hero in Modern French Drama, by Robert Emmet Jones. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1962. Intelligent analysis of several of Lenormand’s plays, especially in the context of alienation and rebellion. Extensive bibliography of works relevant to the artistic context within which Lenormand worked.

Palmer, John. “Lenormand and the Play of Psychoanalysis.” In Studies in the Contemporary Theatre. Boston: Little, Brown, 1927. Looks at Lenormand’s drama from a Freudian point of view.