Introduction to Romain Rolland
(By Miyamoto Masakiyo, founder)

Love, freedom and peace!
Works of hope and courage

      Romain Rolland was born the son of a notary public in the town of Clamecy, central France, in 1866. After graduating with distinction in history from the Ecohle Normale Supérieure, he was selected to undertake a two-year study period in Rome. He gained a doctorate in literature, returned to his old school to teach history of music, then went on to teach at the University of Paris. He had a passion for drama and produced many works, although he did not achieve major success in this field. However, Rolland’s biography of Beethoven imparted great emotional impact on its readers and brought hope and encouragement to life. The work that brought Rolland’s name to fame was Jean-Christophe. He received the literature prize from the French Academy, and became the recipient of the 1915 Nobel Prize for literature. His second major work, The Enchanted Soul, parallels Jean-Christophe in its grandeur. These works are a source of hope and courage for those who desire a righteous life and freedom in a modern world filled with injustice and inconsistencies.

The Pacifist Rolland
      After the First World War, Rolland settled in Switzerland and produced many works (novels, drama, political and social essays and research) surrounded by the beautiful nature on the shores of lake Léman. Numerous individuals respected his character and those who valued his thoughts and artistic works came to visit from afar, including Gandhi and Tagore. Having a natural talent and a deep understanding for literature, philosophy, history and music, he was also concerned with the political and social issues and conditions. He surpassed the boundaries of race and nation to fight for the protection of oppressed peoples. His ideal was peace and freedom and harmony for all the people on the Earth.

      Rolland was born to a Catholic family. Although he abandoned God in his youth, he maintained a strong religious nature as expressed in his words “I am religious at heart.”  Indeed, love may be his God. Romain Rolland and his works have continued to provide deep spiritual inspiration in Japan for the past sixty years.

Biographical Sketch of Romain Rolland

Year  Age      Romain Rolland Reference

1866 Romain Edme Paul-Émile Rolland, born 29 January in Clamecy, Nièvre, Bourgogne to Emile Rolland and Antoinette Marie Courot. Yukichi Fukuzawa Seiyou Jijyo; Marx, Capital vol.1; Tolstoy, War and Peace (1869)
1871 5 Madeleine, younger sister of Romain, dies at age 3. Prussia/France War (defeat of France); The Paris Commune and its failure
1872  6 Second sister of Romain is born, named Madeleine, who contributed greatly to Romain (- 1960)
1873-1880 7 Enters Collège de Clamecy (presently Collège Romain Rolland) Péguy,Barbusse,Blum are born
1875 9 Develops passion for the works of Shakespeare
1880 14

The Rolland family moves to Paris (October); Romain enters Saint-Louis high school.

Labour Party established in France
1882 16 Travels in Switzerland; Receives a revelation from nature; Transfres to Lous-le-Grand High school to prepare for entry to l’Ecole Normale; Meets Paul Claudel. Tripartite Alliance
1883 17 Introduced to the works of Victor Hugo in Switzerland. Nietzsche, F.W.  Also sprach Zarathustra
1884 18 Receives a revelation from reading Spinoza, Ethica;Develops enthusiasm for the works of Beethoven, Wagner and Shakespeare; Fails entrance exam to l’École Normale. Rodin  ‘The Burghers of Calais ’
1885 19 Meets Hugo (March) before his death in May;  Fails for the second time to enter l’École Normale; Reads the works of Tolstoy and  Dostoevsky. Berlin Conference (1878), Discuss Division of Africa
1886-1889 20

Passes l’École Normale examination (July), and enters in November, in the same class as Félex (André) Suarès; Visits Renan in December.

1887 21 Corresponds in writing with Tolstoy; Decides to specialise in history. Formation of French Indochina
1888 22 Writes theoretical essay Credo quia Verum,  (April-May), in which the philosophical basis for Roman’s beliefs was formed; Travels in Switzerland. Visits César Franck
1889 23 Graduates from l’École Normale (August) and qualifies as professor in history; Selected to study at l’ École Française de Rome and researches in the archives of the Vatican. Promulgation of the  Imperial Diet Constitution
1890 24 Friendship with Malwida of Meysenbug flourishes; Meets Sofia Bertolini; Visits various museums in Italy and enjoys the Italian country;  Revelation of Janiculum. The first May Day in France; The first election for the House of Representatives; The Imperial Rescript on Education;
1891 25 Returns to France, visiting Malwida and Bayreuth en Route (July); Writes Empédocle and Orsino Otsu incident
1892 26 Marries Clotilde, daughter of Michel Bréal, professor of linguistics at Collège de France (January 31); Travels to Rome with wife to gather material for a thesis and stays until spring of the following year.
1893 27 Becomes instructor of lycée  high school in Paris. The Sino-Japanese War (1894)
1895 29

Becomes Doctor of Literature; Major work:
Les Origines du Théâtre lyrique moderne, Histoire de l’Opéra avant Lully et Scarlatti.
Supplementary work: Cur ars picturæ apud Italos XVI sæculi deciderit.
Teaches history of art at l’École Normale Supérieure to students including Charles Péguy and Louis Gillet.  

The Sino-Japan Peace Treaty;  Tripartite Intervention; Formation of Labour Confederation in France  
1896 30 Participate in editing Drama Art Review Bergson, H. Material and Memory
1897 31 Fist publication of dramatical works; Saint Louis (in Revue de Paris, Mar-Apr 1987); Writes Jeanne de Piennes (April-Nov.). Dreyfus Incident
1898 32 Publication and performance of Aërt; Listens to Jean Jaurés’ speech; Writes Les Loups at the height of the Dreyfus incident, which is performed on 18 May and published by Péguy. Protest by Zola
1899 33 Le Triomphe de la Raison published, performed in June.
1900 34 Travels to Rome with wife; Death of mother’s father, Edme Courot; Assists with Péguy’s publication, Cahiers de la Quinzaine; Danton published and performed. Frequent strikes in France; Issue of the Law of Peace Police
1901 35 Divorces Clotilde; Attends the Beethoven Memorial Festival in Meinz.
1902 36 Le 14 Juillet published and performed; Uses income from this to make a final visit to see Malwida in Rome;  Accepts to lecture history of music for citizens; Publication of autobiography ‘Millet’. Great victory of socialist party in House of Commons in France; Anglo-Japanese Alliance Treaty
1903 37 Malwida’s death (April); La Vie de Beethoven published, and captures people’s mind; Thesis on Drama for Masses published;  Le Temps viendra published and performed.
1904 38 The first volumes of Jean-Christophe, L’Aube and Le Matin published; Lectures History of Music at the University of Paris. The Russo-Japanese War
1905 39 L’Adolescent, the third volume of Jean-Christophe
Published; Travels to Alsace-Lorraine.
The first Morocco incident
1906 40 La Révolte, fourth volume of Jean-Christophe published; La Vie de Michel-Ange published.
1907 41 La Foire sur la Place (vol 5) and Antoinette (vol 6) published. Tripartite Agreement between Britain, France and Russia
1908 42 Dans la Maion (vol 7), ‘Musiciens d’aujourd’hui’ ‘Musiciens d’autrefois’  published.
1909 43 Les Amis (vol 8), Le 14 Juillet, Danton, Les Loups published.


44 Le Buisson ardent (vol 9), Hendél published; Suffers severe injury in a car accident. Tolstoy dies; Japanese Annexation of Korea; Publication of Shirakaba
1911 45 La Nouvelle Journée (vol 10), la Vie de Tolstoï published.
1912 46 Completion of Jean-Christophe; Retires from teaching at the University of Paris and starts a career in writing. Morocco becomes part of French territory
1913 47 Resides in Switzerland from April to September and writes Colas Brengnon. Jean-Christophe receives literature prize from the French Academy; Meets Zweig,Lilke; Writesスタンダールと音楽、信仰の悲劇
1914 48 Departs for Switzerland (June) and vows not to return to France. Au-dessus de la mêlée published. An open letter to Grehardt Hauptmann; Works with and contribution to the International Red Cross.

The first World War; Péguy dies

1915 49 Publishes a collection of essays entitled Au-dessus de la mêlée which contains an essay of the same title.
1916 50 The magazine Demain is established in January by Henri Guilbeaux and Rolland assists with this through to its last issue (Oct 1918); Receives the 1915 Nobel Prize for literature and donates the entire sum to the International Red Cross and other organisations to benefit society. Friendship with Gorky (1868-1936) begins. Tagore visits Japan
1917 51 Turns down request by Lenin to visit Russia with him. Lenin returns to Russia
1918 52 Empédocle d’Agrigente published; Send an open letter to president Wilson on peace. February and October revolutions in Russia
1919 53

Colas Breugnon, Liluli published; Mother’s death. Les Précurseurs, Déclaration d’Independence de l’Esprit published. 過去の国への音楽のたび published; Writes to Tagore.   

Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg murdered; Non-obedience movement of Gandhi; Peace Treaty of Versailles
1920 54 Pierre et Luce, Clerambault published.   The League of Nations established
1922 56 Les Vaincus published; L’Ame enchantée, Annette et Sylvie published.
1923 57 L’Ame enchantée, L’Été published. Mahatma Gandhi published; The magazine Europe established; Begins correspondence with Maria Koudacheva. Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics  
1924 58 Meets with Richard Strauss in Vienna; Mourns death of Lenin; Le Voyage intérieur published; Writes Le Périple. Lenin dies
1925 59 The Game of Love and Death (Le Jeu de l’Amour et de la Mort) published, performed.
1926 60

Celebrates 60th birthday on 29 June;  February issue of Europe is a special memorial edition dedicated to the works of Rolland; Visited by Nelson and Tagore. 

Rise of world fascism
1927 61 Becomes honorary president of the International Association for Anti-fascism; Resumes research into Beethoven; L’Ame enchantée, Mère et fils presented;  Gives a talk entitled In Gratitude of Beethoven at the Beethoven Centenary festival in Vienna.   Execution of  ?????????
1928 62 Engages in research of India. L’Héroique a l’Appassionata presented. Paris Treaty for Renunciation of War
1929 63 Meets Maria Koudacheva. La Vie de Ramakrishna published. Receives many visitors from Japan. World Economic Crisis
1930 64 Goethe et Beethoven, La Vie de Vivekananda published. London Disarmament Conference
1931 65

Father dies at age 94; Receives visit from Gandhi. Presents スピノザの閃光。

Manchuria Incident
1932 66 Choix de lettres a Malwida von Meysenbug published;  L’Ame enchantée,、一つの世界の死刑 published; Serves as honorary president at the Anti-war and Anti-fascism conference held in Amsterdam. The Nazis becomes the major party in general election in Germany
1933 67 Completes L’Ame enchantée. Becomes honorary chairman of the International Association for Anti-fascism; Refuses the Goethe Medal from the Nazi government.   The Nazis prohibits other parties
1934 68 Marries Maria Koudacheva; Signs first statement of the Anti-fascist association. Hitler becomes Der Führer and prime minister; The Balkan Treaty  
1935 69

Quinze ans de combat, Par la Révolution, la Paix published; Visits the USSR and stays with Gorki. Barbusse’s death in Moscow; Malraux reads Rolland’s condolences at the funeral.

French Italian Agreement
1936 70 Rolland’s 70th anniversary celebration is held in Bloch and Aragon; Le 14 Juillet, Danton performed with the support of the Popular Front Government; Informed of death of Gorki. Visits Paris; Compagnons de route published. Formation of the French popular front; Victory of Spanish Popular Front; Spanish Civil War; 2.26 Incident in Japan
1937 71 Decides to return to France and buys a house in Vézelay; Le Chant de la Résurrection published. The China-Japan War
1938 72 Moves to Vézelay.
1939 73 The Game of Love and Death becomes a repertoire of the Comédie-Française at the 150th anniversary of the French revolution. Robespierre published. The World War Two
1940 74

Continues to write in hospital; German army enters Vézelay; Friendship with Paul Claudel resumed.

The fall of Paris; The Tripartite Alliance  between Japan, Germany and Italy
1941 75 Friendship with Louis Gillet restored. The Pacific War
1942 76 Le Voyage intérieur published.
1943 77 La Neavième Symphonie, Les Derniers Quatuors published; Becomes seriously ill and eyesight fades. Surrender of Italy
1944 78 Attends the Revolution memorial reception at the Russian Embassy; Péguy published; Ends life in Vézelay on 30 December; The funeral is held in St. Martin’s church in Clemency, but body is later transferred to a small cemetery in Brèves in accordance with Rolland’s will.   Liberation of Paris

Publications after death
Finita Comoedia (1945)
ベートーベンの恋人たち (1949)
自伝敷居 (1945)
Other diaries and writings.

Compiled by Akio Kiyohara, Tsushiko Arima.