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An exceedingly serious and well documented study of the French highbrow novel from 1880 to the present, during which period- the author states and proves- the term ""intellectual"" was conceived and flourished. Actually the phrase was coined during the Dreyfus trial, when most outstanding writers were embroiled:- Zola, Bourget, Anatole France, Barres among the early ones. But it was during the years 1930-50 that the craze for the intellectual as hero rose to the heights, with Sartre, Malraux, Camus, Simone de Beauvoir outstanding. The French have an addiction for ideas and during this period developed the notion that man must be committed to the extreme ideas of the Left, to redeeming himself and life by letting his heart bleed for the proletariat. Two world wars and a new and distorted type of romanticism caused this shift from the consolations of nature. A kind of mystical intellectualism attracted the younger men. The Greek concept of moderation, the Renaissance idea of the complete man, the bourgeois sense of enjoyment, humor and pleasure were put to the sword. Brombert depicts this cheerless, barren scene with keen analysis and a good deal of sympathy. But Americans have proved averse to intellectualism, to existentialism; we are on the whole a ""happy breed"". So, crudite and earnest as this study is, the appeal will be to a defined and limited public.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1961
Publisher: Lippincott