La Réforme intellectuelle et moraleby E. Renan; P. E. Charvet

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  • La Rforme intellectuelle et morale by E. Renan; P. E. CharvetReview by: F. C. RoeThe Modern Language Review, Vol. 45, No. 4 (Oct., 1950), pp. 559-560Published by: Modern Humanities Research AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3718991 .Accessed: 28/06/2014 12:17

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  • Reviews 559

    La Reforme intellectuelle et morale. By E. RENAN. Edited by P. E. CHARVET. Cambridge: University Press. 1950. xxvii+ 204 pp. 10s. 6d.

    These political and moral essays, inspired by the disasters of 1870-1, have retained their interest and their value, because Renan, historian and philosopher, far from taking a narrow nationalist view of his country's tragic plight, saw these happenings in the perspective of European history. The essays, which throw light on the history of France, on the German character and, incidentally, on some problems of to-day, possess much of that elusive charm of style with which Renan captivated his con- temporaries; the two letters to Strauss are particularly brilliant. It would, however, perhaps be hazardous to maintain that this book and the Discours et Conferences con- stitute 'the most permanent elements in his work' (p. xxvii) and to forget what magic Renan wove into the Souvenirs d'enfance et de jeunesse, artistically a greater achievement.

    Mr Charvet reproduces the text of the 1871 edition with Renan's notes. He adds factual footnotes and an alphabetical list of the kings and emperors of France to provide the minimum help required by a student not over-familiar with French history. The short, alert, readable introduction, up-to-date in its references, appears to be focused rather on the religious than on the political views of Renan. Ten of the twenty pages rapidly sketch the life, the beliefs and the literary career. Only ten remain for discussion of the book and of Renan's political ideas; mention might have been made of the Drames philosophiques which appear to owe something to the events of 1870-1.

    Renan's political ideas have much in common with those of his contemporary Taine. Both were liberals with a robust belief in the value of an aristocracy; both deplored universal suffrage and thought that, if inevitable, it should at any rate be indirect, so that the actual choice of deputies would be made by the local aristo- cracy; both, convinced that only those States which had left the Roman Church had discovered the secret of progress, extolled the virtues of Protestantism. For each of these philosophers the ideal form of the State was that which afforded them the greatest freedom to pursue knowledge, their consuming passion. Taine discerned his dream-State through a rosy haze lying over the Straits of Dover; Renan, despite the brutal shock of Prussian aggression, never quite abandoned his belief in a Utopia on the far side of the Rhine, where flourished freedom of creed and of conscience, a land where a Renan might have been a bishop. In 1845 he had compared Germany to a temple; he saw only its high priests whose majestic forms screened from his eyes the grim gods worshipped in that misty fane and their sinister devotees. Even in La Reforme he still attributes virtue-in several senses of the word-to the Germans. Nor does he repent of his pristine enthusiasm for German unity. What an unlooked-for harvest the twentieth century has reaped from the seed sown or tended by French and English liberals, so vociferously zealous for a united Germany, a united Italy!

    Every essay raises interesting questions and many passages sound a startlingly topical note, e.g. the plea for a federated Western Europe (pp. 99 ff.) or the pro- phetic vision of Germany falling a victim to the Slavs, whom she had taught aggres- sive nationalism: 'Songez quel poids pesera dans la balance du monde le jour ou la Boheme, la Moravie, la Croatie, la Servie, toutes les populations slaves de l'empire ottoman, surement destin6es & l'affranchisement, races h6roiques encore, toutes militaires et qui n'ont besoin que d'etre commandees, se grouperont autour de ce grand conglomerat moscovite, qui englobe deja tant d'elements divers...' (p. 124). Sometimes Renan sets out in succession two opposing views (e.g. pp. 47-55, 55-7), a device foreshadowing the dialogue form which later (Drames philosophiques) he came to regard as the only form suitable for expounding philosophical ideas.

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  • Contact with Renan's subtle intellect provides a valuable mental exercise and it is an excellent thing that La Reforme has now been made available in an edition specially prepared for students. They will find in it wisdom as well as charm.

    ~~~~~~~~~~ABERDEEN ~F. C. ROE

    ABERDEEN

    La Correspondance de Marcel Proust. Chronologie et commentaire critique. By PHILIP KOLB. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1949. xiv + 464 pp. Paper, $4.00; cloth, $5.00.

    This valuable work finds an appropriate place in the Illinois Studies in Language and Literature (vol. xxxIII, nos. 1 and 2), the repository of so many remarkable studies in the ancient and modern Humanities. Chronology, as Brunetiere used to insist, is the spinal cord of biography and we have only to glance at the first page of Mr Kolb's Introduction to realize why, until he created order out of something like chaos, no accurate biography of Proust was possible. How formidable was the task which confronted this enthusiastic and talented 'proustisant' is reflected in his general impression of the published correspondence: 'absence de dates pour une partie considerable des lettres; nombre de dates erronees ou incompletes, d'ou desordre dans la disposition des lettres; manque de notes explicatives; manque d'un index chronologique et d'un index onomastique.'

    In plan and execution, this indispensable study is a model from which all research scholars can learn much. The first Part (pp. 1-324), modestly described as an 'esquisse' of a critical edition of Proust's letters, establishes the chronology of all the published letters to which Mr Kolb has managed to assign a date. These comprise the Correspondance generale, Les Cahiers Marcel Proust (tomes Iv-vI) and Autres Recueils which embrace twenty-nine items consisting of published collections of letters or of individual letters published separately. Yet this bare statement grotesquely understates Mr Kolb's achievement, since every single letter is the subject of an explanatory biographical note with footnotes which are a delight to read, besides revealing in most casual fashion the scope and depth of Mr Kolb's researches. It is no exaggeration to say that, taken in the ensemble, these 'notes explicatives' not only date the letters but, in the process, re-create the social and literary ambience in which they were conceived.

    Part II (pp. 325-464) offers: (a) an admirable bibliography of Proust's correspon- dence; (b) a general index, with references, of all the names of persons and of places mentioned in the correspondence including, happily, several important themes. If Mr Kolb had given us only this 'index onomastique', he would have deserved our gratitude; (c) a chronological index; (d) a list of Proust's correspondents and, finally, (e) an index of the published letters arranged in the order in which they appear in the various collections side by side with the dates as reestablished by Mr Kolb. As Figaro once remarked, on a very different occasion: 'Ce n'est pas tous les jours fete' ! And it is not every day that a reviewer has the enjoyable experience of perusing a work like La Correspondance de Marcel Proust in which erudition is so agreeably blended with common sense and presented in such a transparent style.

    CAMBRIDGE F. C. GREEN CAMBRIDGE

    Proust's Way. By FRANQOIS MAURIAC. Translated from the French by ELSIE PELL. New York: Philosophical Library. 1950. 105 pp. $3.00.

    This book is a translation of Du cote de chez Proust, which appeared in 1947. But dates here are misleading, for the volume reprints a selection of articles, some on Proust, some on Jacques Riviere, mostly written in the early 1920's, or dealing with

    Contact with Renan's subtle intellect provides a valuable mental exercise and it is an excellent thing that La Reforme has now been made available in an edition specially prepared for students. They will find in it wisdom as well as charm.

    ~~~~~~~~~~ABERDEEN ~F. C. ROE

    ABERDEEN

    La Correspondance de Marcel Proust. Chronologie et commentaire critique. By PHILIP KOLB. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1949. xiv + 464 pp. Paper, $4.00; cloth, $5.00.

    This valuable work finds an appropriate place in the Illinois Studies in Language and Literature (vol. xxxIII, nos. 1 and 2), the repository of so many remarkable studies in the ancient and modern Humanities. Chronology, as Brunetiere used to insist, is the spinal cord of biography and we have only to glance at the first page of Mr Kolb's Introduction to realize why, until he created order out of something like chaos, no accurate biography of Proust was possible. How formidable was the task which confronted this enthusiastic and talented 'proustisant' is reflected in his general impression of the published correspondence: 'absence de dates pour une partie considerable des lettres; nombre de dates erronees ou incompletes, d'ou desordre dans la disposition des lettres; manque de notes explicatives; manque d'un index chronologique et d'un index onomastique.'

    In plan and execution, this indispensable study is a model from which all research scholars can learn much. The first Part (pp. 1-324), modestly described as an 'esquisse' of a critical edition of Proust's letters, establishes the chronology of all the published letters to which Mr Kolb has managed to assign a date. These comprise the Correspondance generale, Les Cahiers Marcel Proust (tomes Iv-vI) and Autres Recueils which embrace twenty-nine items consisting of published collections of letters or of individual letters published separately. Yet this bare statement grotesquely understates Mr Kolb's achievement, since every single letter is the subject of an explanatory biographical note with footnotes which are a delight to read, besides revealing in most casual fashion the scope and depth of Mr Kolb's researches. It is no exaggeration to say that, taken in the ensemble, these 'notes explicatives' not only date the letters but, in the process, re-create the social and literary ambience in which they were conceived.

    Part II (pp. 325-464) offers: (a) an admirable bibliography of Proust's correspon- dence; (b) a general index, with references, of all the names of persons and of places mentioned in the correspondence including, happily, several important themes. If Mr Kolb had given us only this 'index onomastique', he would have deserved our gratitude; (c) a chronological index; (d) a list of Proust's correspondents and, finally, (e) an index of the published letters arranged in the order in which they appear in the various collections side by side with the dates as reestablished by Mr Kolb. As Figaro once remarked, on a very different occasion: 'Ce n'est pas tous les jours fete' ! And it is not every day that a reviewer has the enjoyable experience of perusing a work like La Correspondance de Marcel Proust in which erudition is so agreeably blended with common sense and presented in such a transparent style.

    CAMBRIDGE F. C. GREEN CAMBRIDGE

    Proust's Way. By FRANQOIS MAURIAC. Translated from the French by ELSIE PELL. New York: Philosophical Library. 1950. 105 pp. $3.00.

    This book is a translation of Du cote de chez Proust, which appeared in 1947. But dates here are misleading, for the volume reprints a selection of articles, some on Proust, some on Jacques Riviere, mostly written in the early 1920's, or dealing with

    Contact with Renan's subtle intellect provides a valuable mental exercise and it is an excellent thing that La Reforme has now been made available in an edition specially prepared for students. They will find in it wisdom as well as charm.

    ~~~~~~~~~~ABERDEEN ~F. C. ROE

    ABERDEEN

    La Correspondance de Marcel Proust. Chronologie et commentaire critique. By PHILIP KOLB. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1949. xiv + 464 pp. Paper, $4.00; cloth, $5.00.

    This valuable work finds an appropriate place in the Illinois Studies in Language and Literature (vol. xxxIII, nos. 1 and 2), the repository of so many remarkable studies in the ancient and modern Humanities. Chronology, as Brunetiere used to insist, is the spinal cord of biography and we have only to glance at the first page of Mr Kolb's Introduction to realize why, until he created order out of something like chaos, no accurate biography of Proust was possible. How formidable was the task which confronted this enthusiastic and talented 'proustisant' is reflected in his general impression of the published correspondence: 'absence de dates pour une partie considerable des lettres; nombre de dates erronees ou incompletes, d'ou desordre dans la disposition des lettres; manque de notes explicatives; manque d'un index chronologique et d'un index onomastique.'

    In plan and execution, this indispensable study is a model from which all research scholars can learn much. The first Part (pp. 1-324), modestly described as an 'esquisse' of a critical edition of Proust's letters, establishes the chronology of all the published letters to which Mr Kolb has managed to assign a date. These comprise the Correspondance generale, Les Cahiers Marcel Proust (tomes Iv-vI) and Autres Recueils which embrace twenty-nine items consisting of published collections of letters or of individual letters published separately. Yet this bare statement grotesquely understates Mr Kolb's achievement, since every single letter is the subject of an explanatory biographical note with footnotes which are a delight to read, besides revealing in most casual fash...

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