Romain Rolland and the Politics of the Intellectual Engagement

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Overview

This intellectual portrait of Romain Rolland (1866-1944)--French novelist, musicologist, dramatist, and Nobel prizewinner in 1915--focuses on his experiments with political commitment against the backdrop of European history between the two world wars. Best known as a biographer of Beethoven and for his novel, Jean-Christophe, Rolland was one of those nonconforming writers who perceived a crisis of bourgeois society in Europe before the Great War, and who consciously worked to discredit and reshape that society in the interwar period. Analyzing Rolland's itinerary of engaged stands, David James Fisher clarifies aspects of European cultural history and helps decipher the ambiguities at the heart of all forms of intellectual engagement.

Moving from text to context, Fisher organizes the book around a series of debates--Rolland's public and private collisions over specific committed stands--introducing the reader to the polemical style of French intellectual discourse and offering insight into what it means to be a responsible intellectual. Fisher presents Rolland's private ruminations, extensive research, and reexamination of the function and style of the French man of letters. He observes that Rolland experimented with five styles of commitment: oceanic mysticism linked to progressive, democratic politics; free thinking linked to antiwar dissent; pacifism and, ultimately, Gandhism; antifacism linked to anti-imperialism, antiracism, and all-out political resistance to fascism; and, most controversially, fellow traveling as a form of socialist humanism and the positive side of antifascism. Fisher views Rolland's engagement historically and critically, showing that engaged intellectuals of that time were neither naive propagandists nor dupes of political parties.

David James Fisher makes a case for the committed writer and hopes to re-ignite the debate about commitment. For him, Romain Rolland sums up engagement in a striking, dialectical formula: "Pessimism of the Intelligence, Optimism of the Will." His story presents a powerful challenge to modern intellectuals.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765805546
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/11/2003
  • Pages: 424
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

David James Fisher is Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine; Senior Faculty Member, New Center for Psychoanalysis (Los Angeles); and Training and Supervising Analyst, Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He has published three books: Bettelheim: Living and Dying; Romain Rolland and the Politics of Intellectual Engagement and this book. He has published articles on the points of convergence of European cultural history and the history of psychoanalysis, including essays on Lacan, Foucault, Sartre, Camus, Fenichel, Spielrein, and Bettelheim. He is a former student of George L. Mosse at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and of Georges Haupt of the Sixieme Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, France.

David James Fisher is Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine; Senior Faculty Member, New Center for Psychoanalysis (Los Angeles); and Training and Supervising Analyst, Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He has published three books: Bettelheim: Living and Dying; Romain Rolland and the Politics of Intellectual Engagement and this book. He has published articles on the points of convergence of European cultural history and the history of psychoanalysis, including essays on Lacan, Foucault, Sartre, Camus, Fenichel, Spielrein, and Bettelheim. He is a former student of George L. Mosse at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and of Georges Haupt of the Sixieme Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, France.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Preface
Pt. 1 Fin De Siecle Idealist
1 The Languages of Engagement 3
2 An Oceanic Sensibility 8
3 Above the Battle 38
Pt. 2 The Political and Ideological Ambiguities of Rollandism in the 1920s
4 The Intellectual's International 51
5 The Rolland-Barbusse Debate 79
6 Gandhian 112
Pt. 3 Left-Wing Cultural Politics of the 1930s
7 Intellectual Antifascism and the Amsterdam-Pleyel Movement 147
8 Antifascist Resistance 177
9 The Politics of Critical Support 205
10 The Cultural Politics of the Popular Front 236
11 The Politics of Uncritical Support 267
Conclusion: Pessimism of the Intelligence, Optimism of the Will 292
Notes 303
Bibliography 355
Index 361
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