Le romancier, l’écrivain et Dieu

Dominique Rougé


In his famous paper from 1939, entitled “M. François Mauriac et la liberté” [Eng. transl.
“François Mauriac and freedom”], Jean-Paul Sartre argues polemically with F. Mauriac about his
novel La fin de la nuit [Eng. transl. The End of the Night]. He accuses him of not allowing any
latitude to his characters, of considering himself as their owner, of beeing God who knows everything
about his creatures and disposes them his own fussy way. F. Mauriac has anticipated this criticism
previously in 1933, in his text entitled “Le romancier et ses personnages” [‘The Novelist and his
Characters’], in which he wards off considering himself a God and writes, that novelists are only the
Almighty’s monkies. Mauriac says, that in his novels he combines elements cominf from reality and
fruits of his imagination.
Next Milan Kundera, particularly in his novel L’art du roman [Eng. transl. The Art of the Novel]
criticizes sharply novelist, who, just like Sartre or Mauriac, make use of their characters to hand down
their ideas. He says, that they should be demoted to writers. According to him, no one is the owner of
novel’s characters, even their author. However, paradoxically, Kundera dedicates a lot of time to
explain to his readers this what he wrote and to his feeling of betrayal and of incomprehension from
his critics and translators.
In reading of those three novelists, it seems that all of them more or less conciously aspire to the
role of master of the way of thinking about the literary art.


Baty-Delalande Hélène, 2009, « Kundera et l’engagement sartrien », (in :) Désaccords parfaits. La réception paradoxale de l’œuvre de Milan Kundera, Thirouin Marie-Odile, Boyer-Weinmann Martine (éds.), Grenoble, ELLUG.

Chvatik Kvetoslav, 1995, Le monde romanesque de Milan Kundera, Paris, Gallimard.

Czapski Joseph, 1991, Tumultes et spectres, Paris, Noir sur blanc.

Foucault Michel, 1969, L’archéologie du savoir, Paris, Gallimard.

Jeammet Nicole, 2004, Les violences morales, Paris, Odile Jacob.

Kundera Milan, 1986, L’art du roman, Paris, Gallimard.

Ricoeur Paul, 2004, « Le mal », (in :) idem, Un défi à la philosophie et à la théologie, Genève, Labor et Fides.

Robert Marthe, 1972, Roman des origines et origines du roman, Paris, Grasset.

Sartre Jean-Paul, 1947, « M. François Mauriac et la liberté », (in :) idem, Critiques littéraires (situations, I), Paris, Gallimard.

Sartre Jean-Paul, 1948, Qu’est-ce que la littérature, Paris, Gallimard.

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