Amiel’s Journal has ratings and 14 reviews. Jessica said: I have completed my journey with Henri. I was a little sad to lose him. Of course technical. Donor challenge: Your generous donation will be matched 2-to-1 right now. Your $5 becomes $15! Dear Internet Archive Supporter,. I ask only once a year. INTRODUCTION. IT WAS in the last days of December, , that the first volume of Henri Frederic Amiel’s “Journal Intime” was published at Geneva. The book.
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. But I have not translated all the fresh material to be found in that edition nor have I omitted certain sections of the Journal which in these two recent volumes have been omitted by their French editors.
It would be of no interest to give my reasons for these variations at length. They depend upon certain differences between the English and the French public, which are more readily felt than explained. Some of the passages which I have left untranslated seemed to me to overweight the introspective side of the Journal, already so full to overweight it, at any rate, for English readers.
Others which I have retained, though they often relate to local names and books, more or less unfamiliar to the general public, yet seemed to me valuable as supplying some of that surrounding detail, that setting, which helps one to understand a life. Besides, we English are in many ways more akin to Protestant and Puritan Geneva than the French readers to whom the original Journal primarily addresses itself, and some of the entries I have kept have probably, by the nature of things, more savor for us than for them.
THIS translation of Amiel ‘s “Journal In time” is pri- marily addressed to those whose knowledge of French, while it may be sufficient to carry them with more or less complete understanding through a novel or a newspaper, is yet not enough to allow them to understand and appre- ciate a book containing subtle and complicated forms of expression.
I believe there are many such to be found among the reading public, and among those who would naturally take a strong interest in such a life and mind as AmiePs, were it not for the barrier of language. It is, at any rate, in the hope that a certain number of additional readers may be thereby attracted to the ” Journal Intime ” that this translation of it has been undertaken.
The difficulties of the translation have been sometimes considerable, owing, first of all, to those elliptical modes of speech which a man naturally employs when he is writing for himself and not for the public, but which a translator at all events is bound in some degree to expand.
Fragments d’un journal intime
Every here and there Amiel expresses himself in a kind of shorthand, perfectly intelligible to a Frenchman, but for which an English equivalent, at once terse and clear, is hard to find.
Another difficulty has been his constant use of a technical philosophical language, which, according to his French critics, is not French even philosophical French but German. Very often it has been impossible to give any other than a literal rendering of such passages, if the thought of the original was to be preserved ; but in those cases where a choice was open to me, I have pre- ferred the more literary to the more technical expression; and I have been encouraged to do so by the fact that Amiel, when he came to prepare for publication a certain number of “Pensees,” extracted from the Journal, and printed at vi PREFACE.
My warmest thanks are due to my friend and critic, M. Edmond Soberer, from whose valuable and interesting study, prefixed to the French Journal, as well as from cer- tain materials in his possession which he has very kindly allowed me to make use of, I have drawn by far the greater part of the biographical material embodied in the Introduc- tion.
Scherer has also given me help and advice through the whole process of translation advice which his scholarly knowledge of English has made especially worth having. In the translation of the more technical philosophical passages I have been greatly helped by another friend, Mr. Bernard Bosanquet, Eellow of University College, Oxford, the translator of Lotze, of whose care and pains in the mat- ter I cherish a grateful remembrance.
But with all the help that has been so freely given me, not only by these friends but by others, I confide the little book to the public with many a misgiving! May it at least win a few more friends and readers here and there for one who lived alone, and died sadly persuaded that his life had been a barren mistake; whereas, all the while such is the irony of things he had been in. The book, of which the general literary world knew nothing prior to its appearance, con- tained a long and remarkable Introduction from the pen of M.
Edmond Scherer, the well-known French critic, who had been for many years one of Amiel’s most valued friends, and it was prefaced also by a little Avertissement, in which the ” Editors ” that is to say, the Genevese friends to whom the care and publication of the Journal had been in the first instance entrusted described in a few reserved and sober words the genesis and objects of the publication.
Journal of Henri Frederic Amiel/Preface – Wikisource, the free online library
Some thousands of jpurnal of Journal, cover- ing a period of more than thirty years, had come into the hands of Amiel’s literary heirs. He preserved in them his psycholog- ical observations, and the impressions produced on him by books. But his Journal was, hengi all, the confidant of his most private and intimate thoughts; a means whereby the thinker became conscious of his own inner life ; a safe shelter wherein his questionings of fate and the future, the voice of grief, of self-examination and confession, the soul’s cry for inward peace, might make themselves freely heard.
In the directions concerning his papers which he left behind him, Amiel expressed the wish that his literary executors should publish those parts of the Journal which might seem to them to possess either inter- est as thought or value as experience.
The publication of this volume is the fulfillment of this desire. It contained nothing, or almost nothing, of ordinary biographical material. Scherer’s Intro- duction supplied such facts as were absolutely necessary to the understanding of AmiePs intellectual history, but nothing more. Everything of a local or private a,iel that could be excluded was excluded.
The object of the editors in their choice of passages for publication was declared to be simply ” the reproduction of the moral and intellectual physiognomy of their friend,” while M.
Scherer expressly disclaimed any biographical intentions, and limited his Introduction as far as possible to “a study of the character and thought of Amiel. The writer of the Journal had frrric during his lifetime wholly unknown to the general European public.
In Geneva itself he had been commonly regarded as a man who had signally disappointed the hopes and ex- pectations of his friends, whose reserve and indecision of character had in many respects spoiled his life, and alienated the society around him; while yenri professional lectures were generally pronounced dry and unattractive, and the few volumes of poems which represented almost his only contributions to literature had nowhere met with any real cordiality of reception.
Those concerned, therefore, in the publication of the first volume of the Journal can hardly have had much expectation of a wide success. Geneva is not a favorable starting-point for a French book, and it may well have seemed that not even the support of M. ScheKer’s name would be likely to carry the volume beyond a small local circle. Among those who think and read it is beginning to be generally recognized that another book has been added to the books which live not to those, perhaps, which live in the public view, much discussed, much praised, the objects of feeling and hengi struggle, but to those in which a germ of permanent life jourbal been deposited silently, almost secretly, which compel no homage and excite no rivalry, and which owe the place that the world half -unconsciously yields to them to nothing but that indestructible sympathy of man with man, that eternal answering of feeling to feeling, which is one of the great principles, perhaps the greatest principle, at the root of literature.
Scherer naturally was the first among the recognized guides of opinion to attempt the placing of his friend’s Journal.
For the secret of Amiel’s malady is sublime, and the expression of it won- derful. For frxric is as true now as it was in the days when La Bruyere rated the critics of his time for their incapacity to praise, and praise at once, that ” the surest test of a man’s critical power is his judgment of contemporaries.
Kenan, I think, with that exquisite literary sense of his, was the next among the authorities to mention Amiel’s name with the emphasis it deserved. Renan has devoted two curious articles to the completed Journal in the Journal des Desbats. The first object of these reviews, no doubt, was not so much the critical apprecia- tion of Amiel as the development of certain paradoxes which have been haunting various corners of M.
Renan’s mind for several years past, and to which it is to be hoped he has now given expression with sufficient emphasis and brnsquerie to satisfy even his passion for intellectual ad- venture. Still, the rank of the book was fully recognized, and tlie first article especially contained some remarkable criticisms, to which we shall find occasion to recur.
Renan, “without any sacrifice of truth to artistic effect, we have both the perfect mirror of a modern mind of the best type, matured by the best modern culture, and also a striking picture of the sufferings which beset the sterility of genius. These two volumes may certainly be reckoned among the most inter- esting philosophical writings, which have appeared of late years.
Caro’s article on the first volume of the Journal, in the Revue des Deux Mondes for February,may perhaps count as the first introduction of the book to the general cultivated public.
He gave a careful analysis of the first half of the Journal -resumed eighteen months later in the saine periodical on the appearance of the second volume and, while protesting against what he con- ceived to be the general tendency and effect of Amiel’s mental story, he showed himself fully conscious of the rare and delicate qualities of the new writer.
Caro has his doubts as to the legitimacy of reverie; “Hen aufa. There is a henrk of something positive and aus- tere, of something which, for want of a better name, one calls Puritanism, in Amiel, which escapes the author of “line Cruelle Enigme. Bourget is fully alive to the mark which the Journal is likely to make among modern records of mental history.
He, too, insists that the book is already famous and will remain so; in the first place, because of its inexorable realism and sincerity; in the second, because it is the most perfect example available of a certain variety of the modern mind. Among ourselves, although the Journal amidl attracted the attention of all who keep a vigilant eye on the progress of foreign literature, and although one or two appreciative articles have appeared on it in the magazines, the book has still to become generally known.
One remarkable English testimony to it, however, must be quoted. Six months after the publication of the first volume, the late Mark Pattison, who since then has himself bequeathed to literature a strange and memorable fragment of autobiography, addressed a letter to M.
Scherer as the editor of the” Journal Intime,” which M. Scherer has since published, nearly a year after the jouranl of the writer. The words have a strong and melan- choly interest for all who knew Mark Pattison ; and they certainly deserve a place in any attempt to estimate the impression already made on contemporary thought by the “Journal Intime.
I say unique, but I can vouch that there is in exist- ence at least one other soul which has lived through the same struggles, mental and moral, as Amiel. In your pathetic description of uenri volonte qui voudrait vouloir, mais impuis- sante a se fournir a elle-meme cles motifs of the repug- nance for all action the soul petrified by the sentiment of the infinite, in all this I recognize myself.
I can feel forcibly the truth of this, as it applies to myself! As I cannot suppose that so peculiar a psychological revelation will enjoy a wide popularity, I think it a jourmal to the editor to assure journzl that there are persons in the intije whose souls respond, in the depths of their inmost nature, to the cry of anguish which makes itself heard in the pages of these remarkable confessions.
It is a nat- ural consequence of the success of the book that the more it penetrates, the greater desire there is to know something more than its original editors and M. Scherer have yet told us about the personal history of the man who jkurnal it about his education, his habits, and his friends.
Perhaps some day this wish may find its satisfaction. It is an inno- cent one, and the public may even be said to have a kind of right to know as much as can fddric told it of the person- alities which move and stir it.
At present the biographical material available is extremely scanty, and if it were not for the kindness of M. Scherer, who has allowed the pres- ent writer access to certain manuscript material in his possession, even the sketch which follows, vague and imper- fect as it necessarily is, would have been impossible.
He belonged to one of the emigrant families, of which a more or less steady supply had enriched the little republic during the three centuries following the Reforma- tion. Berthe Vadier during the passage of the present book through the press.
My knowledge of them, however, came too late to enable me to make use of them for the purposes of the present introduction. His father must have been a youth at the time when Geneva passed into the power of the French repub- lic, and would seem to have married and settled in the halcyon days following the restoration of Genevese inde- pendence in Amiel was born when the prosperity of Geneva was at its height, when the little state was admin- istered by men of European reputation, and Genevese society had power to attract distinguished visitors and ad- mirers from all parts.
The veteran Bonstetten, who had been the friend of Gray and the associate of Voltaire, was still talking and enjoying life in his appartement over- looking the woods of La Batie. Kossi and Sismondi were busy lecturing to the Genevese youth, or taking part in Genevese legislation ; an active scientific group, headed by the Pictets, De la Kive, and the botanist Auguste-Pyrame de Candolle, kept the country abreast of European thought and speculation, while the mixed nationality of the place the blending in it of French keenness with Protestant enthusiasms and Protestant solidity was beginning to find inimitable and characteristic expression in the stories of Topffer.
The country was governed by an aristocracy, which was not so much an aristocracy of birth as one of merit and intellect, and the moderate constitutional ideas which represented the Liberalism of the post- Waterloo period were nowhere more warmly embraced or more intelli- gently carried out than in Geneva.
During the years, however, which immediately followed Amiel’s birth, some signs of decadence began to be visible in this brilliant Genevese society. The generation which had waited for, prepared, and controlled, the Restoration of. But the slumber was a short one at Geneva as elsewhere, and when Rossi quitted the republic for France inhe did so with a mind full of misgivings as to the political future of the little state which had given him an exile and a Catholic so generous a welcome in The ideas of were shaking the fabric and disturbing the equili- brium of the Swiss Confederation as a whole, and of many of the cantons composing it.
Geneva was still apparently tranquil while her neighbors were disturbed, but no one looking back on the history of the republic, and able to measure the strength of the Eadical force in Europe after the fall of Charles X. In the same year that M. Rossi had left Geneva, Henri Frederic Amiel, at twelve years old, was left orphaned of both his parents.
They had died comparatively young his mother was only just over thirty, and his father cannot have been much older. On the death of the mother the little family was broken up, the boy passing into the care of one relative, his two sisters into that of another. Certain notes in M. Scherer’s possession throw a little light here and there upon a childhood and youth which must necessarily have been a little bare and forlorn.
They show us a sensitive, impressionable boy, frdgic health rather delicate than robust, already disposed to a more or less melancholy and dreamy view of life, and showing a deep interest in those religious problems and ideas in which the air of Geneva has been steeped since the days of Calvin. The religious teaching which a Genevese lad undergoes prior to his admission to full church member- ship, made a frdrkc impression on him, and certain mystical elements of character, which remained strong in him to the end, showed themselves very early.
At the college or public school of Geneva, and at the academic, he would seem to have done only moderately as far as prizes and honors were concerned. XV read enormously, and that he was, generally speaking, inclined rather to make friends with men older than him- self than with his contemporaries. He fell specially under the influence of Adolphe Pictet, a brilliant philologist ehnri man of letters belonging to a well-known Generese family, and in later life he was able, ffdric reviewing one of M.
Pictet’s books, to give grateful expression to jourjal sense of obligation. Writing in he describes the effect produced in Geneva by M. Since then twenty experi- ences of the same kind have followed each other in his intellectual experience, yet none has effaced the deep im- pression made upon him by these lectures. Coming as they did at a favorable moment, and answering many a positive question and nitime a vague aspiration of youth, they exer- cised a decisive influence over his thought; they were to him an important step in that continuous initiation which we call life, they filled a,iel with fresh intuitions, they brought near to him the horizons of his dreams.