Date of this Version
UNIVERSITY STUDIES, VoL. XXXVIII-Nos. 3-4, 1938, pp 115-173
Swiss by birth and in his ethical attitude, German by training and in his emotions as well as in his philosophy, French by unofficial adoption and in his intellectual curiosity, Edouard Rod occupied an unusual place among the novelists of his generation. An inherited tendency toward melancholy, a sad and lonely childhood, and his introduction to the philosophy of Schopenhauer, enabled him to analyze successfully the pessimism of his period and laid the foundation for the doctrine of despair which constitutes one of the most constant factors in his work. Still, the inborn idealism and that enthusiasm for Wagner which helped to turn him from naturalism, also facilitated his acceptance of the teachings of Tolstoy, thus leading him to a firm belief in the merits of sacrifice and in the superiority of simplicity in living. Because of his introduction of a new type of novel as well as on account of the fidelity with which he reflects the literary evolution of his epoch, his work forms an important chapter in the history of the French novel during the nineteenth century. The fact that shortly after Rod's death M. Giraud includes him among the masters of the hour, with such figures as Loti, Brunetiere, Faguet, de Vogue, Lemaitre and Anatole France, indicates his significance for French literature. This monograph traces through a critical analysis of his novels the evolution of Rod's literary method and his ideals, both of which reflect accurately but from a personal point of view the general tendencies of his period.