Roger Martin du Gard (mahr-tan dew gahr) achieved his reputation as a novelist with the publication of Jean Barois in 1913. After World War I, during which he served in the motor transport division, he undertook his magnum opus, The Thibaults, the first volumes of which came out in the early 1920’s and the eighth and last, called simply Épilogue, in 1940. In recognition of his performance in this cyclical work, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1937.
Martin du Gard was born in 1881 into an established, well-to-do Catholic family of lawyers and magistrates. He made this same bourgeois class the subject of his novels, and even though his theme is revolt and disintegration, he seems to have inherited from his background the qualities for which he is most often praised: integrity, solidity, and sense. He was educated at the best schools in Paris, and in 1906 he received from the École de Chartres the advanced degree of archivist-paleographer.
His scholarly temperament is evident in his fiction; his friend André Gide remarked that Martin du Gard was interested in general laws of behavior rather than in exceptional cases and that he envied him his obstinate patience in pursuing his goal. In his Nobel Prize speech Martin du Gard referred to himself as an “investigator as objective as is humanly possible.” In his fiction he strives for and achieves an almost photographic fidelity, especially notable in his dialogue, and the...
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