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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Le dynamisme du devenir chez Roger Martin du Gard Oldham, Ronald


This thesis is neither a philosophical essay nor a study of the theory of evolution. Its title, Le dynamisme du devenir chez Roger Martin du Gard, is chosen to indicate that the concept of change, of the flow of things, has profoundly influenced the novelist of the twentieth century. He wants to be free from temporal limits and from sharply defined contours in order to express the continuity he feels in the world about him. The serial novel, or roman-fleuve, is an admirable vehicle for such an expression. The genre is skilfully used by Roger Martin du Gard in his masterpiece Les Thibault. From volume to volume the reader has the sensation of continuous movement and change, the panorama is always new, as though a river is carrying him downstream. The figure of a river which flows incessantly epitomizes the roman-fleuve. In this essay the writer has attempted to trace the various concepts of time and duration from Plato to the present day. Consideration has been given to Heraclitus, Spinoza, the cult of the eternal and the unchangeable in the Classical period, Leibniz and the theory of continuity, and finally the investigation of the question of duration as postulated by Bergson. Since life, virile and pulsating, is intrinsic in the modern novel the writer believes that Bergson's conception of dynamism has influenced contemporary literature more than is generally accepted. It is however true that the rhythm of movement is often broken. This is inevitable. The reader of James Joyce, for example, has a telescopic view of the past and the present because Joyce handles time as an aspect of local colour. Indeed it may be local colour. And similarly in Martin du Gard there are often long intervals in duration in juxtaposition with brief moments, where the rhythm is destroyed temporarily and the effect of discontinuity is intentionally evident. The pulse of life may become weak and it may grow strong, but it never ceases to beat. It is just this continual and incessant change from tranquillity to disquietude that is reflected in the ambient milieu of Roger Martin du Gard. In this essay three aspects of the milieu of Les Thibault are studied. These include the family, medicine and politics. The scientific vocabulary, the sustained use of dialogue throughout whole chapters, and the many interior monologues to express the subconscious thoughts of the characters - all these help to fix the ambience and to intensify it under the light of veracity. Not only does Martin du Gard observe, he interprets and develops with logic and clarity the phenomena of human behaviour. And this essay is concerned with the milieu of Les Thibault to show the evolution and the dynamism of the characters who frequent it. One chapter is assigned to the ethics of Roger Martin du Gard. He bears the mark of André Gide's philosophy of fervour and disponibilité, not to mention his philanthropy and idealism. The author of this essay rejects the view that this idealism is a thinly disguised form of obscurantism. Rather, he has tried to show that the philosophy of Martin du Gard is one of hope, that if one will only seek, he will be rewarded to find that life is a source of inexhaustible possibilities. . It is felt that the bibliography is comprehensive in that it includes the works of Roger Martin du Gard, translations in English and German of Les Thibault and numerous articles from Parisian reviews.

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