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Rolland Rolland: Letters to Tagore on peace


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Nobel prize in literature recipients on peace and war

French writers on war and peace

Romain Rolland: Selections on war


Romain Rolland
From letters to Rabindranath Tagore
Translator unknown

After the disaster of this shameful world war which marked Europe’s failure, it has become evident that Europe alone cannot save herself. Her thought is in need of Asia’s, just as the latter profited from contact with European thought. These are the two hemispheres of the brain of mankind. If one is paralysed, the whole body degenerates. It is necessary to reestablish their union and their healthy development.

Europe continues to struggle in confusion and it has not ended yet its trial of violence. It continues of its way to ruin…

But the mysterious working of the soul takes place in the midst of chaos and ruins. I am never troubled by the tragic and sneering spectacle of appearances. Under this inflated veil which is about to burst, I feel the roaring breath of a superhuman fate. And this fate itself is but the envelope of fire wrapping eternal Peace.

For having defended during the war the highest soul of France, her genius for humanity, France denies me. The Théâtre-Français has just declared that they would never stage a work of the man who had written Au-dessus de la Mèlee. Such is the law, ironical and tragic. He who wishes to save his people is an enemy of the people, as is said in the beautiful play by Ibsen.

In every country of the world, men like us are alone. I believe they have always been so. But considering that, in this our present age of paroxysms, all characters tend to become exaggerated and over-emphasized, the divergence appears wider between the crowd which exists from day to day, and the small number of men who keep in touch with the eternal.; between the clamorous riot of people who, by means of murderous war and hate, seek to assert, one against the other, their “Me” of the herd, their nations, and those who, having long passed that stage, seek to prepare the next, in order to receive therein the heirs to the present generation. The saying of Schiller, in Don Carlos, which I have taken for a motto in my Les prècurseurs, is always true of us:

…Iche lebe.
Ein Burger derer, welche kommen werden.

“I am a fellow-citizen of those who will come later.”

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