Semester of Graduation

Fall 2019


Master of Arts (MA)


French Studies

Document Type



The psychological novel (roman d’analyse) as a genre starts in France with Mme de Lafayette (1634-1693) in the seventeenth century with the publication of La Princesse de Clèves (1678). However, the use of a psychological perspective is less known among early twentiethth century catholic authors. At the beginning of the century, several authors have used this genre extensively to convey their moral message: Paul Bourget (1852-1935); Henry Bordeaux (1870-1963); and Émile Baumann (1868-1941). The works of these writers have not been the object of research when it comes to analyzing their views and their accounts of their epoch. The analysis of their accounts of the institution of marriage and their pertinence to these early twentieth century catholic writers will help us underscore the value of such works. Their contribution is indeed largely unknown to this day: while much recognition is given to literary movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries such as Naturalism (1830-1890), Parnassianism (1866-1876), the Dada movement (1916-1923) and Surrealism (1920-1940) little is known about the writers of the Catholic literary renaissance (Renaissance littéraire catholique) who occupied the French literary scene between 1885 and 1925. By examining this period, we can understand a neglected moment in French literary history between Naturalism and the Dada movement. The following works are considered in this analysis: Un divorce (1904) by Paul Bourget, La Croisée des chemins (1909) by Henri Bordeaux, Job le prédestiné (1922) by Emile Baumann. In order to better show the originality and the added value of their contributions to French literature, we also included in our corpus pre and post works that also deal with the psychology of marriage: La Princesse de Clèves (1678) by Mme de Lafayette, and Thérèse Desqueyroux (1927) by François Mauriac (1885-1970).

Based on these five novels, this thesis will answer the following questions: what is the added value of the early twentieth French catholic writers to the tradition of the psychological novel? In other words, how the use of new narrative innovation and rhetorical devices are used to represent the circumvolutions of the characters within the marriage. We claim that that this constitutes the existence of a literary movement in its own right.

Committee Chair

Russo, Adelaide