England, Egypt, India, by Robert d'Humières,
Paris, Société Mercure de France. One vol. in-16, 304p.

   Readers of La Gazette1 know what an original and delightful writer M. Robert d'Humières2 is. His charm is so absolute that in many ways he cannot write anything without it being published. And, in the same way, we could say that any page selected at random from his new book (of which a part had first appeared as a matter of fact in La Gazette), The Island and Empire of Great Britain, could, just as well as any other, give a perfect idea of it. Throughout, the absolute clarity of style and thought, a kind of gushing, secret warmth, makes us understand at what depth this enchanted well-spring has its source. What attracts us most of all in this book perhaps are certain pages of very spiritual and profound human observation and also of marvellous landscapes. Numerous pages of art criticism: "Notes on Art", "The Monuments of Lower Egypt", "Benares", "Jaipur", "Old Delhi", "The Mosque of Kutab-ul-Islam", "The Ruins of Tughlakabad", "The Old Pagodas", I do not wish to say will be of more interest, but will be of more direct concern to readers of La Chronique and La Gazette. An interview with Rudyard Kipling is a small masterpiece. With what discretion, what distinction, being the high point and characteristic elegance of M. Robert d'Humières, the only thing of which Mr Kipling does not speak in this conversation are the translations of Kipling done by Robert d'Humières. We may be permitted to think that on this point the interview, as it is presented to us, is rather unfaithful. But the most important part of the book, which through a "fraternal and mysterious link" that connects it to Du Désire aux Destinées3, is the preface. Even when M. Robert d'Humières talks about art, his hidden thought, his constant ambition, his philosophy, is Science. Remaining personally too captive to the old distinctions of Doctrine, we can hardly believe that science, whose objective is phenomenal, could ever replace metaphysics, the science of the noumenon, nor that science, since there is no science but the general, can ever merge with art which has as its precise mission the task of gathering together all that is particular, that is individual, which the syntheses of science allow to escape. He is no less true in this respect than is lending an ear to those wholly new expressions that scholars bring to our attention through which philosophy can renew its morals and art its inspiration. And, first and foremost, this M. Robert d'Humières has announced with a flair and an authority that is unsurpassed.


First publication: La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, 13 August 1904.

1. La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité was a weekly supplement to La Gazette des Beaux-Arts. At the time these luxury reviews were edited by Charles Ephrussi.

2. Robert d'Humières (1868 - 1915) was the first translator of Kipling into French.

3. In 1902 Robert d'Humières had published Du Désir aux Destinées (From Desire to Destiny), a collection of poetry, in Le Mercure de France. - The words placed in quotation marks by Proust are from Baudelaire (Les Fleurs du mal).


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