Henri Peyre

Henri Peyre

Biography Henri Peyre

Henri Peyre (1901-1988) was born in Paris, but as young child his father’s pastoral duties summoned the family from the national capital to Avignon. Because he was a promising secondary school scholar he was called to Paris to attend the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure. As a normalien he enrolled at the University of Paris where he received his licence in 1922 and his agregation in 1924.

After two years of obligatory military service, he came to the United States to teach at Bryn Mawr (1924-27) and Yale (1927-32). During this first assignment at Yale he completed his doctorat d’État and published his first two books. He then went to Egypt to teach at the University of Cairo (1933-1936) and returned to France to teach at the University of Lyon (1936-1937). He spent the rest of his life on this side of the Atlantic, holding academic positions at Yale University (1938-1969) and the City University Graduate School (1969-1979).

At Yale he was Sterling Professor of French and chair of the department; at the Graduate Center he was Distinguished Professor of French and Executive Officer of the doctoral program. A bibliography published in 1993 lists 44 books, 268 articles, 47 reviews and 57 other publications by him. During this prodigious activity, he was the featured lecturer at hundreds of colleges, universities and civic organizations, the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and, as the 2005 publication of more than a thousand of his letters bears witness, a man dedicated to keeping in touch with his friends; among whom were students, colleagues and famous writers. It was at Bryn Mawr that he met his first wife, Marguerite Vanuxem, who died in 1962. After her death, he married Lois Haegert, the mother of his only son Brice. He later married Diana Festa, professor of French emerita, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center.

From his very first books, both published by Yale in 1932, Bibliographie critique de l’hellénisme en France de 1843 a 1870. and Louis Ménard (1822-1901), his substantial oeuvre featured defining commentary on major moments of French literature, such as Qu’est-ce que le classicisme? (Nizet, 1965), Qu’est-ce que le romantisme? (Presses Universitaires de France, 1971), and Qu’est-ce que le symbolisme? (PUF, 1974). Henri Peyre also penned substantial monographs on Baudelaire (Prentice-Hall, 1965), Hugo (PUF 1972), Proust (Columbia, 1968), Rimbaud and Verlaine (Nizet, 1975), and Sartre (Columbia, 1968). His critical and comparative studies included Renan et la Grace. (Nizet, 1973), The Failures of Criticism (Cornell, 1967), The Contemporary French Novel (Oxford University Press, 1955), and American Literature Through French Eyes, (University of Virginia Press, 1947).

Books by and in Honor of Henri Peyre

Henri Peyre: His Life in Letters. Ed. John William Kneller and Mario Maurin.New Haven : Yale University Press, 2004.

André Malraux and Cultural Diversity: Essays in Honor of Henri Peyre. (co-edited with F. E. Dorenlot and Robert S. Thornberry.)Edmonton : R.S. Thornberry, 1994.

Victor Hugo: Philosophy and Poetry. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1980.

What is Symbolism? Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1980.

What is Romanticism? Tuscaloosa, AL : University of Alabama Press, 1977.

La Littérature devant l’histoire: Essays in Honor of Henri Peyre. Fredonia, N.Y. : Dept. of Foreign Languages, State University College, 1976.

La littérature symboliste. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1976.

French Literary Imagination and Dostoevsky and Other Essays. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1975.

Rimbaud vu par Verlaine. Paris : A.-G. Nizet, 1975.

Qu’est-ce que le symbolisme? Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1974.

Renan et la Grèce. Paris: A.G. Nizet, 1973.

Hugo. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1972.

Qu’est-ce que le romantisme? Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1971.

The France of Claudel. Jamaica, N.Y.: St. John’s University Press, 1971.

Marcel Proust. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970.

Baudelaire as a Love Poet : And Other Essays. (written with Lois Boe Hyslop). University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1969.

Fiction in Several Languages. Boston : Beacon Press, 1969.

Renan. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1969.

Six Maîtres Contemporains. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969.

Historical and Critical Essays. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1968.

Jean-Paul Sartre. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.

Fiction in Several Languages. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968.

The Classical Line: Essays in Honor of Henri Peyre. New Haven : Yale French Studies, 1967.

The Failures of Criticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967.

French Novelists of Today. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

The Literature of France. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

Modern Literature. (with G.L. Anderson and Victor Lange). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1966.

Baudelaire : A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice Hall, 1965.

Qu’est-ce que le classicisme? Paris: A.-G. Nizet, 1965.

Seven French Short Novel Masterpieces. New York: Popular Library, 1965.

Contemporary French Literature, a Critical Anthology. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.

Literature and Sincerity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963.

Albert Camus moraliste. Lynchburg, VA: Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, 1962.

Baudelaire, a Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962.

Observations on Life, Literature, and Learning in America. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1961.

Excellence and Leadership in a Democracy. Cambridge, MA : American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1961.

The Contemporary French Novel. New York : Oxford University Press, 1955.

The Need for Language Study in America Today. New York: Cultural Division of The French Embassy, 1954.

History in Modern Culture; an Address at the First Meeting of the French History Society. New York: French History Society, 1950.

The Influence of Eighteenth Century Ideas on the French Revolution. Indianapolis, Ind. : Bobbs-Merrill, 1949.

Les générations littéraires. Paris: Boivin, 1948.

American Literature Through French Eyes. Charlottesville, VA : University of Virginia Press, 1947.

Writers and Their Critics, a Study of Misunderstanding. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1944.

Problémes franc¸ais de demain; réflexions à propos d’un livre recent. New York:Moretus Press, 1943.

Le classicisme franc¸ais. New York: Éditions de la Maison française, Inc., 1942.

L’influence des littératures antiques sur la littérature franc¸aise moderne. État des travaux. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1941.

Hommes et œuvres du XXe siècle. Paris: R.-A. Corrêa, 1938.

Seventeenth Century French Prose and Poetry.(with Elliott Mansfield Grant.)Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1937.

Shelley et la France : lyrisme anglais et lyrisme franc¸ais au XIXe siècle. Le Caire : Impr. P. Barbey, 1935.

Bibliographie critique de l’hellénisme en France de 1843 à 1870. New Haven : Yale University Press, 1932.

Louis Ménard (1822-1901). New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932.

Bibliography compiled by Chong Wojtkowski for the Henri Peyre French Institute