Introduction a Don Juan et ... d Henri-Pierre Roche. Un destin fragmentaire

Du Toit, Catherine (2010-11)


In spite of a growing interest in the life and works of Henri-Pierre Roché, little has been written on his first publication, Don Juan et... Published in 1920 under the pseudonym of Jean Roc, this series of vignettes represents the first serious attempt Roché made to transform his life and his ideas about love into a literary work. It is also the first time the figure of the seducer appears in Roché’s writing – a seducer he creates in the image of his own conception of love, in other words, a human phenomenon the can be dissected on all levels, whether metaphysical, geopolitical or medico-scientific. In this article, I concentrate on the genesis of this text, studying the conditions in which it was created, the influences authors such as Franz Hessel and Peter Altenberg may have had on its creation and the way in which Roché’s portrayal of the Don Juan figure echoes contemporary texts and perceptions of love, desire and, consequently, the representation of the age-old myth of the relentless and unrepentant seducer. This texts deserves more attention since it effectively reflects the most important European conceptions of the time with regards to love and seduction while serving as a precursor to Roché’s future writing. The figure of the seducer became an important presence in Roché’s life (and consequently in his future autobiographical works), particularly in his liaison with Helen Hessel. The repercussions of this obsession were therefore to lead to the creation of Roché’s most famous novel, Jules et Jim.

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