Rolland, Romain

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rolland, Romain

Romain Rolland (rômăN´ rôläN´), 1866–1944, French novelist, biographer, playwright, and musicologist. After studying in Paris he spent two crucial years in Rome, where he was influenced by German intellectuals. He wrote biographies of Beethoven (1903, tr. 1909), Michelangelo (1905, tr. 1915), Tolstoy (1911, tr. 1911), and Mahatma Gandhi (1924, tr. 1924). His 10-volume novel Jean-Christophe (1904–12, tr. 1910–13), established his reputation in the literary world. An example of the roman-fleuve, or continuous series of novels, it is a fictional biography of a German-born musician and a study of contemporary French and German civilization. Rolland was awarded the 1915 Nobel Prize in Literature. His genuine pacifistic philosophy and the courage of his convictions, reflected in Above the Battle (1915, tr. 1916), led to self-imposed exile in Switzerland, where he remained until 1938. Among his other works are the play The Wolves (1898, tr. 1937), inspired by the Dreyfus Affair; the seven-volume novel The Soul Enchanted (1922–33, tr. 1925–34); and a biography (1945) of Péguy. Journey Within (2d ed. 1959, tr. 1947) and Mémoires (1956) are autobiographical.

See biography by W. T. Starr (1972); study by H. March (1973).

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