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Henry de Montherlant (1895–1972)

A Philosophy of Failure


Patricia O'Flaherty

Montherlant – worthless amoral aesthete – or sensitive literary philosopher? This book takes a brand new look at his work and system of values. The author places Montherlant in the context of French twentieth-century literature and thought, with reference to the literary and philosophical movements of the century. She further describes the legacy of this prolific writer, whose literary standing is contested by some but whose importance in French twentieth-century literature and philosophy is beyond dispute. The stage for an analysis of Montherlant’s œuvre is set through an examination of his essays and notebooks, in relation to the writings of Plato, an important source. Montherlant, like many other writers of his generation, sought an ideal of heroism, explored in his early novels, which was destroyed by the horrific wars of the twentieth century. Through subtle argument and detailed textual analysis, this book demonstrates the complex and contradictory nature of a philosophy which advocates pleasure and joie de vivre, while espousing a nihilistic vision.
Contents: Montherlant’s System of Values as expressed by the Carnets and Essais – Heroism – The Death of Heroism – Humanist Existentialism - Action or Contemplation – The Ideal - Les Garçons and Thrasylle – Travel Writings – Stoicism and Nihilism.