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As one of the outstanding minds of France, the career of George Duhamel reflects the universal range of his interests. A physician turned poet, playwright, novelist, publicist, critic, and world traveler, Duhamel for half a century has sought as a liberal humanist to defend the moral and aesthetic values of Western civilization against the encroachment of a dehumanizing machine age.
Duhamel first achieved fame as a writer with two eloquent outcries against war in Vie des Martyrs and Civilisation, written while he was a front-line surgeon during World War I. His later plays and novels continued to deal with the search of the individual for identity in contemporary life, especially in the Salavin series and the ten-volume Chronique des Pasquier, his outstanding works of fiction. Among the commentaries on other cultures arising from his travels, Duhamel’s scathing criticism of the United States in Scenes de la vie future aroused particular furor.
It is in Duhamel’s feeling for humanity, Mr. Keating believes, that one may discover the consistent pattern in Duhamel’s work, essentially the passionate reaction of a surgeon-artist to the cruelties of a war-torn world. In this critical biography of Duhamel as writer and thinker, Mr. Keating therefore relates all of Duhamel’s many-sided activities to his underlying purpose—to find a path for individual happiness in the complexities of contemporary life.
L. Clark Keating is chairman of the Department of Modem Foreign Languages and Literatures in the University of Kentucky.
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Georges Duhamel, World War I, Humanism, French literature
French and Francophone Language and Literature
Keating, L. Clark, "Critic of Civilization: Georges Duhamel and His Writings" (1965). French and Francophone Literature. Book 5.