Romain Rolland: Beacon of Light, or Apologist for Evil?

Though he’s now largely unknown, for many Europeans of my generation he was the most important writer of our time. Were we right about him?

Romain Rolland in 1914, the year before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Wikipedia/Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Romain Rolland in 1914, the year before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Wikipedia/Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Observation
Sept. 22 2016
About the author

Walter Laqueur is the author of, among other books, WeimarA History of TerrorismFascism: Past, Present, Future, and The Dream that Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union. His newest book, Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West, was released in 2015 by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s.

For many Europeans of my generation—those who came of age before World War II—Romain Rolland (1866-1944) was not only the most important writer of our time but a beacon of light in a very dark world. Novelist, essayist, dramatist, art historian, humanist, pacifist, idealist without compare, he was our great guide in the battle against philistine obscurantism on the one hand, creeping barbarity on the other.

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More about: Arts & Culture, History & Ideas, Literature, Stefan Zweig, World War II