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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Humanisme et l'humour dans l'oeuvre de Maurice Bedel McBride, Rose-Blanche


The aim of this work is to study a few of the aspects of Maurice Bedel's humanism and to examine his treatment of humour. It is an incontestable fact that the understanding of foreign cultures is an integral part of humanism. The first chapter deals with Norway in a study of Jérome 60° Latitude Nord, (prix Goncourt 1927) and with Greece in Le Laurier d'Apollon. The conclusion gives a summary of the different works which also reveal the exotic aspect of the humanism and humour of Maurice Bedel. In spite of his love of travel and adventure, Maurice Bedel is far from being a "déraciné." In order to inspire in the young a love of the land, he wrote Géographie de mille hectares, a short work, but which is the very portrayal of France in miniature. This book was followed a few years later by Histoire de mille hectares, which is not an account of wars and peace treaties, but rather the history of man's efforts to achieve a better way of life and the victories won in the battle for human dignity. The return to the land, the reinstatement of the profession of farming and craftsmanship, the country dialect and the wit of the Tourangeaux, is the subject matter of chapter two. The conclusion makes one think of the naturalism of Barrès and offers a critical appreciation of the writers of the "terroir." Maurice Bedel's criticism might well have been applied to himself. During a long stay in Africa, Maurice Bedel became indignant at the treatment of the natives by the "coloniaux." His impressions were collected in a diary, Tropiques Noirs, and his observations are not lacking in wit. The author was sensitive to the difficulties of the Métis, to their sufferings and vexations. In Le Mariage des couleurs, an anti-racist novel which is as much a study of African mores as a justification of the "terroir," Maurice Bedel analysed the drama of the "sang-mélé" of the two hemispheres. Chapter three is therefore devoted to the anti-racist aspect of Bedel's humanism. This chapter concludes with the author's assertion that there is no such thing as a race but merely adaptations of man to his environment. In chapter four it is proven that it is no longer possible for the humanist of the 20th century to remain indifferent to the influence of politics. Bedel does not neglect certain political events of his time which, constitute a threat to the freedom of the individual. His interview with Hitler in Nazi Germany and with Mussolini in Fascist Italy, made him fear for the fate of the European democracies and the future of civilisation. Bedel treats this subject with particular humour. The chapter concludes by contrasting democratic liberties with the totalitarian states and by criticising the weaknesses of the Third Republic and the indifference of the French towards politics. The last chapter of this thesis shows how Bedel presents the problem of women in his usual witty manner. By portraying the typical young woman of 1930, he forecasts the position in society of women today. At the international conferences in Geneva, the lecturer Henri Lefebvre demonstrated the limitations of Greco-Latin humanism which had ignored the role of women or had at best treated them as a mythical or abstract presence. Bedel, in his capacity as a humanist, realized that modern society can no longer afford to ignore the importance of women in society. His interest is based on his concern for justice towards all humanity. This study concludes with an examination of the essential characteristics of Bedel's humanism. His philosophical essay Le Destin de la personne humaine, is a plea for the individual. He warns mankind of the dangers of collectivism. Nevertheless the author believes that optimism and reason will win out.

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