Amiel's Journal: The Journal Intime of Henri-Frédéric Amiel: Large Print

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Independently Published, 2020 - Fiction - 285 pages
His style, indeed, is by no means always in harmony with the central French tradition. Probably a Frenchman will be inclined to apply Sainte-Beuve's remarks on Amiel's elder countryman, Rodolphe Töpffer, to Amiel himself: "C'est ainsi qu'on écrit dans les littératures qui n'ont point de capitale, de quartier général classique, ou d'Académie; c'est ainsi qu'un Allemand, qu'un Américain, ou même un Anglais, use à son gré de sa langue. En France au contraire, où il y a une Académie Française ... on doit trouver qu'un tel style est une très-grande nouveauté et le succés qu'il a obtenu un evènement: il a fallu bien des circonstances pour y préparer." No doubt the preparatory circumstance in Amiel's case has been just that Germanization of the French mind on which M. Taine and M. Bourget dwell with so much emphasis. But, be this as it may, there is no mistaking the enthusiasm with which some of the best living writers of French have hailed these pages--instinct, as one declares, "with a strange and marvelous poetry;" full of phrases "d'une intense suggestion de beauté;" according to another. Not that the whole of the Journal flows with the same ease, the same felicity. There are a certain number of passages where Amiel ceases to be the writer, and becomes the technical philosopher; there are others, though not many, into which a certain German heaviness and diffuseness has crept, dulling the edge of the sentences, and retarding the development of the thought. When all deductions have been made, however, Amiel's claim is still first and foremost, the claim of the poet and the artist; of the man whose thought uses at will the harmonies and resources of speech, and who has attained, in words of his own, "to the full and masterly expression of himself."

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