Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, Romain Rolland (raw-LAHN) is known for his biographies, including François Millet (1902), which was published only in English; others include Beethoven (1903; English translation, 1907), Michel-Ange (1905; Michelangelo, 1915), La Vie de Michel-Ange (1906; The Life of Michelangelo, 1912), Haendel (1910; Handel, 1916), Vie de Tolstoï (1911; Tolstoy, 1911), and Mahatma Gandhi (1924; Mahatma Gandhi: The Man Who Became One with the Universal Being, 1924). Among his musicological works, Goethe et Beethoven (1927; Goethe and Beethoven, 1931) and the comprehensive work Beethoven: Les Grandes Époques créatrices (1928-1945)—part of which was translated as Beethoven the Creator (1929)—are of general interest.

The genre that Rolland embraced initially, without much recognition, was drama. He later grouped several of his plays into cycles. These are Les Tragédies de la foi (1913), consisting of his first published play, Saint Louis (1897)—together with Aërt (1898) and Le Triomphe de la raison (1899)—and the cycle Théâtre de la révolution (1909), originally consisting of Les Loups (pb. 1898; The Wolves, 1937), Danton (pr., pb. 1900; English translation, 1918), and Le Quatorze Juillet (pr., pb. 1902; The Fourteenth of July, 1918), and later including Le Jeu de l’amour et de la mort (pb. 1925; The Game of Love and Death, 1926), Pâques fleuries (pb. 1926; Palm Sunday, 1928), Les Léonides (pb. 1928; English translation, 1929), and Robespierre (pb. 1939). Editions that appeared during Rolland’s lifetime show different or incomplete groupings.

Among Rolland’s other important writings for and about the theater are the satire Liluli (pb. 1919; English translation, 1920) and Le Théâtre du peuple: Essai d’esthétique d’un théâtre nouveau (1903; The People’s Theater, 1918). Of Rolland’s extensive correspondence, thirty volumes have been published in Cahiers Romain Rolland (1948-1996). Autobiographical works and published diaries include Le Voyage intérieur (1942; The Journey Within, 1947) and L’Inde: Journal 1915-1943 (1949), as well as Journal des années de guerre, 1914-1919 (1952). Rolland commanded international attention with his political, polemical, and pacifist writings. Among them are Au-dessus de la mêlée (1915; Above the Battle, 1916) and Les Précurseurs (1919; The Forerunners, 1920), which reappeared together in L’Esprit libre (1953). This collection of essays and open letters is essential for an understanding of Rolland’s position within the post-World War I European intellectual elite.