Title page for ETD etd-04142009-163147

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Du Toit, Madeleine Catherine Kepler
Email cdt@sun.ac.za
URN etd-04142009-163147
Document Title Henri-Pierre Roché : Á la recherche de I' unité perdue
Degree DLitt
Department Modern European Languages
Advisor Name Title
Prof L F H M C Peeters Supervisor
  • autobiography
  • French literature
  • comparative literature
  • Don Juan literary myth
  • eroticism
  • desire
  • seduction
  • biography
  • Henri-Pierre Roché
Date 2006-05-02
Availability unrestricted

The life of Henri-Pierre Roché (1879 – 1959), art collector, journalist, writer, finds its singular rhythm in a continual meandering between dispersion and the search for unifying harmony. This dispersion – moral and physical – appears to represent a necessary evil for him since he considers his vocation to be the gathering of human experiences from as wide a spectrum as possible in order to create a work that would be useful to society, that would lead to better understanding of issues such as political harmony, eroticism and polygamy.

The dissertation consists of a detailed biographical study which covers Roché’s formative years until the publication of his first literary works (1879 – 1907). A biographical summary of the remainder of his life is followed by a chapter on his first major publication, Don Juan et... , which has not formed the subject of any literary analysis prior to this. The third chapter consists of an interpretation of Roché’s novel Deux Anglaises et le Continent as both a work of initiation and an initiation to his work, illustrating how it introduces themes that recur in two further novels, Jules et Jim and Victor.

Through his way of life, Roché’s life becomes his most extensive and involved œuvre. This dissertation traces the roots of his propensity for dispersion and lack of unity, to his childhood and specifically to the form of education advocated by his mother Clara Roché. This attribute surfaces again in Roché’s keeping of a personal diary, spanning almost sixty years, in which he compulsively observes and notes his own behaviour and that of those around him. The diary emphasises and prepares the fragmentary, compressed style and open-ended writing which would later become Roché’s trademark.

Abandoning his studies in political science, Roché sets out on a career which has much in common with the lives dilettante intellectuals fashion for themselves towards the end of the 19th century. His first human project, formulated around 1902, is an attempt to understand the mystery of erotic love and the possibilities of sexual relationships. To this end, he transforms his own life into a kind of laboratory. At a time when France has hostile inclinations towards Britain and Germany, Roché undertakes extensive journeys to these countries, learning the languages and opening himself to literary, social and philosophical influences. The dissertation pays particular attention to the analysis of these influences, an area which has not yet been covered by any other research. Through a detailed interpretation of Don Juan et..., the nature of seduction and desire is examined in the context of the literary myth of Don Juan and the association between fragmentation and desire is emphasised.

In conclusion, the association between desire and its written expression is examined and found to be reflected in Roché’s fragmentary writing, through which he appears to find a solution/ compromise in the form of voluntary incompleteness compensating for his failure in the impossible quest for unity.

©University of Pretoria 2005

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  00front.pdf 584.04 Kb 00:02:42 00:01:23 00:01:13 00:00:36 00:00:03
  01chapter1.pdf 2.59 Mb 00:11:58 00:06:09 00:05:23 00:02:41 00:00:13
  02chapter2.pdf 803.04 Kb 00:03:43 00:01:54 00:01:40 00:00:50 00:00:04
  03chapter3.pdf 265.94 Kb 00:01:13 00:00:37 00:00:33 00:00:16 00:00:01
  04conclusions.pdf 146.85 Kb 00:00:40 00:00:20 00:00:18 00:00:09 < 00:00:01
  05bibliography.pdf 267.57 Kb 00:01:14 00:00:38 00:00:33 00:00:16 00:00:01

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