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Henri Peyre

Henri Peyre: His Life in Letters

John W. Kneller GENERAL EDITOR
Collected and Transcribed by Mario Maurin
FOREWORD BY MARY ANN CAWS
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 1128
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1np8vd
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  • Book Info
    Henri Peyre
    Book Description:

    Henri Peyre (1901-1988), a giant figure in French studies, did more to introduce Americans to the modern literature and culture of French than any other person. Sterling Professor and chair of the French Department of Yale University for more than four decades, Peyre was also the author of forty-four books, a brilliant speaker, and a mentor to two generations of students. He left enormous legacies as both teacher and scholar.Peyre also left a large and fascinating body of correspondence. This collection of his letters documents the era in which he lived. His lively letters also bear witness to the vast network of his friends and colleagues, including such major post-war literary figures as Robert Penn Warren, Andre Gide, and Andre Malraux.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13075-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Mary Ann Caws

    We know that Herman Melville left only about 300 letters and that Henry James left about 12,000. Henri Peyre left a number somewhere in between. It is not, however, the number of letters that matters to the life of the writer, to the recipients, or to those who read them later. In the case of Henri Peyre, it is the extraordinary range of friends, colleagues, students, and well-known personalities with whom he corresponded, often at length. Henri Peyre was, along with all his other matchless qualities, a most beloved friend of an impressive number of impressive persons. He represented the...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xv)
    John W. Kneller
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvi-xx)
    Mario Maurin

    At Yale during the late 1940s, I didn’t think it behooved me, a French speaker, to take courses in French. But Henri Peyre’s reputation had spread through the college, and so I decided to take an undergraduate course with him on the modern French novel. At that time I already felt the stirrings of an urge to do some writing. Going on to graduate school and eventually to a teaching career would keep me involved with literary texts. Peyre encouraged me to follow that path, and so I enrolled in the French doctoral program. Like all his other students, I...

  6. CHAPTER ONE the 1920s
    (pp. 1-43)

    . . . Je viens de terminer mon devoir sur les rapports de la définition et de la classification. J’ai fouillé tous les bouquins que j’ai pu trouver, et je me suis creusé la cervelle là-dessus; car je t’assure que le sujet ne m’inspirait guère et que j’ai eu de la peine à écrire 8 ou 10 pages là-dessus. A propos, es-tu content de tes bachotages? J’ai aussi composé en français hier le sujet n’était pas épatant et ce n’est guère du genre de ceux que l’on donne généralement au concours. C’était de commenter ces quelques lignes d’A. France [La...

  7. CHAPTER TWO the 1930s
    (pp. 44-102)

    I am very much obliged for your letter and the information about the cable address of the Foundation. I am sending here the information for the annual report.

    PEYRE, Henri, Maurice. Appointed for the continuation of researches in France on Louis Ménard, a Frenchman of letters of the XIXth century, and the completing of a work on that subject.

    Born Feb. 21, 1901 at Paris, France. Education: Lycée Louis le Grand, Paris, Sorbonne and École Normale Supérieure, University of Cambridge. Degrees: Baccalauréat ès Lettres—Philosophie, 1917–8, Licence ès Lettres, 1922, Diplôme d’Études Supérieures, 1923, and Agrégation, 1924, Sorbonne.

    Lecturer...

  8. CHAPTER THREE the 1940s
    (pp. 103-293)

    I have taken the liberty to telephone in order to ask for an appointment with you. As we are approaching the middle of the academic year, we can perceive and formulate more clearly some of the problems of our department, and I should like both to mention to you some of the results already obtained and to ask your advice and approval about our plans or our desiderata for the future. May I state them briefly in this letter, before I have an opportunity to discuss them with you orally?

    As you may have heard, our department has recently proposed...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR the 1950s
    (pp. 294-556)

    Il y a de fort bonnes choses dans votre essai de M.A. & je crois que vous pourriez le reprendre pour une thèse. Vous avez fait preuve ici d’une bonne connaissance de Baudelaire, d’une habile utilisation de tous les textes relatifs à votre sujet, d’une familiarité réelle avec l’époque, l’oeuvre de Balzac & de Flaubert. Il y a de la méthode, de la précision, de la pénétration & du goût littéraire.

    Bien sûr, il y a aussi des gaucheries: le sujet est mal présenté au début, les conclusions sont décevantes; dans le corps des chapitres, l’ordre est un peu flottant,...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE the 1960s
    (pp. 557-688)

    My very best wishes to you & to your wife as this New Year hope fully opens. I don’t believe you came to Chicago & it was a very exhausting affair; yet there were several excellent papers. With all the horrible side of our profession which those conventions display, there is also reason for believing we have effected great improvement over the last twenty years. The number of bright former students, who have remained bright, is comforting.

    I fear I had to pass on to you the chairmanship of the Committee on honorary Fellows of the MLA. I hope you...

  11. CHAPTER SIX the 1970s
    (pp. 689-864)

    Il est bien difficile de donner des avis, ou même de porter jugement, sur les poésies de quelqu’unde jeune, de doué, d’ardent & dans une certaine mesure, d’inspiré. Vous avez de grands dons: une économie de moyens très frappante; une densité explosive; le courage de fuir le joli, le gracieux, la poésie dite “de jeune fille” & de mettre de l’abstrait dans vos vers & d’y faire entrer ce qui au premier abord sembleraitnonpoétique. J’aime le “Mud bath” pour sa force suggestive—pas unmot de trop. Le premier poème me paraît unpeu moins heureux, au 4e vers par...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN the 1980s
    (pp. 865-1082)

    Quelle gracieuse & ingénieuse carte— et fidèle image d’un arroseur au gros nez, versant son aimable poison, comme je l’ai fait tant d’années. Quelques modestes fleurs sont devenues de puissants arbres; vos branches, à leur tour, dispensent à d’autres “le mystique aliment qui fera leur vigueur.” Merci—et de ce champagne, particulièrement délicieux. Diane & moi l’avons bu hier soir—seuls désormais, tous les enfants partis—c’est un avant-goût de la retraite pour moi & je ne déteste pas cette venue de “l’automne des idées.” Vous avez rendu agré able & aimablement enivrant ce passage à l’octogénariat.

    I found your...

  13. A Brief Biography of Henri Peyre
    (pp. 1083-1084)
    M. A. C.
  14. Index
    (pp. 1085-1106)