JEAN BAROIS by Roger Martin du Gard

JEAN BAROIS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Thibaults established a prestige market for Nobel Prize winner, Roger Martin du Gard. Now comes a brilliant translation (by Stuart Gilbert) of a novel published earlier in France, but not hitherto available in English. It is questionable whether the market will approach that of the earlier book, for Jean Barois seems very remote from the American trend of thought of any generation. Its chief interest, for this reader at any rate, lies in its mirroring the whole period of ferment in French thought and emotions during the last two decades of the 19th century, decades which encompassed the passionately felt Dreyfus case. Jean Barois, son of a doctor and unbeliever, is brought up in strict conformity to the Catholic Church, but early experiences doubts which gradually turn to rejection. The text follows closely the reasoned pattern of his change and argument, largely in dialogue; it traces his adherence to the free thinkers of his time, his leadership in the issuance of an avant-garde journal, his advocacy of the fighters for revision of the Dreyfus case-and at the close, his reversal to the faith of his fathers. There is less emphasis on his personal life, except as it is linked with the pattern of his thoughts,- his marriage, and its break-up, his contact with his 18-year old daughter, bent upon entering a convent, but wanting to achieve her father's conversion first, his final reunion with his estranged wife. One senses, through his experiences, the background of French turmoil, the changing political and emotional scene. But the book- in final analysis- is a novel of ideas, and the market in this country will find sharp limitations.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1949
ISBN: 116543539X
Publisher: Viking