Jules Romains was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885, in Saint-Julien-Chapteuil, a village in the Velay region of France. His parents, Henri Farigoule and Marie Richier, both came from Velay families. His father, however, had become a schoolteacher in the Montmartre district of Paris, and while Louis was still an infant, the family returned to Paris, where he spent his childhood.
A brilliant student, he studied at the Lycée Condorcet and then at the estimated École Normale Supérieure. During his school years, he read widely and began to write, producing his first volume of poetry, L’Âme des hommes, when he was eighteen years old, under the pseudonym Jules Romains. He associated with, but did not join, the Abbey group of young poets and artists, who published his volume of poetry La Vie unanime in 1908.
In 1909, already established as an author, he began his teaching career. He taught at Brest and then at Laon until the war. In 1912, he married Gabrielle Gaffé. By the outbreak of World War I, he had published several volumes of poetry, a play (L’Armée dans la ville), and two novels (Death of a Nobody and The Boys in the Back Room) and was a leading literary figure.
Romains had served his obligatory year of military service after leaving school in 1905 in an infantry regiment at Pithviers. He had disliked army life, and when the war broke out in 1914, he served in...
(The entire section is 580 words.)
Jules Romains was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885, in Saint-Julien-Chapteuil in the Velay. He was to maintain a deep attachment to his native soil and would return to its mountains and valleys in prose and poetry. The only son of Henri Farigoule and Marie Richier, both from long-standing Velay families, Romains came to know Paris intimately, for his father was a schoolteacher there. The family lived on the northern slope of Montmartre, and in the fantasy of Louis Bastide rolling his hoop in Men of Good Will, one can imagine the author’s childhood. Thanks to a government policy on education, the young Romains was able to attend the Lycée Condorcet and later the prestigious École Normale Supérieure. Pleasant experiences of both are echoed in The Boys in the Back Room and Men of Good Will.
Like Jallez in Men of Good Will, Romains (he adopted the pseudonym in 1904) underwent a religious crisis in his early teens. In 1903, a semimystical experience on the rue d’Amsterdam swept him into unanimism, which became for him a quasi religion and inspired especially his earlier works. After his brilliant scholastic achievements, he embarked immediately upon a literary and teaching career. He began with poetry, becoming familiar with the Abbaye group of poets, among them Georges Duhamel and Charles Messager Vildrac. While teaching at Laon from 1910 to 1914, Romains associated with Jean Moréas, André Gide, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, and Pablo Picasso. He also maintained close ties of friendship with his companions at the Lycée Condorcet and the École Normale Supérieure, especially Georges Chennevière, who died in 1927.
During the years before World War I, Romains renewed his bond with Gabrielle Gaffé, whom he married in 1912 after her divorce. Despite many literary evocations of Gabrielle, the marriage had an...
(The entire section is 774 words.)