Book review: Jean-Christophe: Journey’s End by Romain Rolland


Jean-Christophe: Journey's End (Dodo Press)Jean-Christophe: Journey’s End by Romain Rolland

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book comprises the last 3 volumes of Jean-Christophe, also known as Roman-fleuve which refers to an extended sequence of novels of which the whole acts as a commentary for a society or an epoch, and which continually deals with a central character, community or a saga within a family.

Plot:
The central character, Jean-Christophe Krafft, is a German musician of Belgian extraction, a composer of genius whose life is depicted from cradle to grave. He undergoes great hardships and spiritual struggles, balancing his pride in his own talents with the necessity of earning a living and taking care of those around him. Tormented by injustices against his friends, forced to flee on several occasions as a result of his brushes with authority and his own conscience, he finally finds peace in a remote corner of Switzerland before returning in triumph to Paris a decade later.

According to John Cruickshank, ( “Rolland, Romain”, in Anthony Thorlby (ed.), The Penguin Companion to Literature 2: European Literature. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969, p. 661), this novel brings “together his interests and ideals in the story of a German musical genius who makes France his second home and becomes a vehicle for Rolland’s views on music, social matters and understanding between nations”.

In terms of literary criticism, this novel can be considered as a Bildungsroman, novel of formation, novel of education, or coming-of-age story (though it may also be known as a subset of the coming-of-age story) is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood (coming of age), and wherein character change therefore is extremely important.

Since this book was written in the period of 1904 to 1912, the author describes the European society just before World War I.

Romain Rolland was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915.


Romain Rolland and Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1931, by Max Kettel (1902-1961)

There is an interesting link from the Public Domain in Canada which provides all Romain Rolland’s work in French.

Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

VII. Dans la maison.
The original French text is available at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec.

VIII. Les amies.
The original French text is available at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec.

IX. Le buisson ardent.
The original French text is available at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec.

X. La nouvelle journée.
The original French text is available at La Bibliothèque électronique du Québec.

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