Henri-Pierre Roche et Peter Altenberg : une emotion qui nait de l ellipse meme

Du Toit, Catherine (2011)

Revue no. 41--2011


Henri-Pierre Roché’s life as well as his work is characterized by a certain movement which seems to be contradictory at first glance: a dissipatory movement that manifests itself through a curiosity of all and everyone, long journeys and parallel loves – ephemeral or lasting – are accompanied by a strong desire to distil a unique essential and authentic wisdom from this apparent disarticulation. It is a process of concentration and distillation that is equally valid for the contents of his writing as for its form the essential characteristic of which is its concision. The quest for purity of expression most probably has its origins in the 1903 meeting between Roché and the Austrian author Peter Altenberg. Roché found himself at a sensitive and impressionable stage of his writing career when this influential Viennese thinker instilled in him a philosophy of brevity and restraint. Fifty years later, the elliptical and terse style of Jules et Jim, would reveal the lasting impressions of the Viennese experience. Among Henri-Pierre Roché’s numerous travels, his journey to Germany and Austria in 1903, would be decisive for his evolution as a writer. The article reconstitutes the principal stages and meetings of this journey in order to trace their influence in Roché literary career.

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