Other Literary Forms
Although Jules Romains published works in a number of genres simultaneously, his emphasis shifted. In the 1910’s, he published mostly poetry, and in the 1920’s, he produced primarily drama. The 1930’s was his decade for writing novels, and from the 1940’s to his death in 1972, his interest lay in nonfiction, especially political essays and literary criticism.
In 1904, at the age of eighteen, Romains published his first volume of poetry, L’Âme des hommes. Four years later came a major work, La Vie unanime, which illustrates his concept of unanimism, a theory of collectivity. Europe (1916) contrasts the peace of prewar Europe with the current chaos and expresses horror at the devastation of World War I. The contrast between peacetime and war again emerges in Ode Génoise (1925). In his most ambitious work, L’Homme blanc (1937), Romains attempted an epic poem reminiscent of Victor Hugo’s five-volume La Légende des siècles (1859-1883).
Although Romains continued to publish poetry until the 1950’s, he is better known for his fiction. He wrote several works of short fiction, including Le Bourg régénéré (1906) and Nomentanus le réfugié (1943). His first novel, Mort de quelqu’un (1911; Death of a Nobody, 1914), illustrates the formation and dynamics of groups that arise from events, in this case the death of a little-known railway...
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