Unanimism (French: Unanimisme) is a movement in French literature begun by Jules Romains in the early 1900s, with his first book, La vie unanime, published in 1904.[1][2] It can be dated to a sudden conception Romains had in October 1903 of a 'communal spirit' or joint 'psychic life' in groups of people.[3] It is based on ideas of collective consciousness and collective emotion, and on crowd behavior, where members of a group do or think something simultaneously. Unanimism is about an artistic merger with these group phenomena, which transcend the consciousness of the individual.[4] Harry Bergholz writes that "grossly generalizing, one might describe its aim as the art of the psychology of human groups".[1] Because of this collective emphasis, common themes of unanimist writing include politics and friendship.[5]

The primary unanimist work is Romains's multi-volume cycle of novels Les Hommes de bonne volonté (Men of Good Will), the ideas in which can be traced back to La vie unanime. The narrative jumps from character to character, rather than following one at a time, in an effort to reveal the nature and experience of the group as a whole.[1]

Other writers sometimes called unanimistes—many associated with the Abbaye de Créteil—include Georges Chennevière, Henri-Martin Barzun, Alexandre Mercereau, Pierre Jean Jouve, Georges Duhamel, Luc Durtain, Charles Vildrac and René Arcos.[4][full citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Bergholz, Harry (April 1951). "Jules Romains and His "Men of Good Will"". The Modern Language Journal. 35 (4): 303–309. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1951.tb01639.x. JSTOR 319619.
  2. ^ "Men of Good Will". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ Tame, Peter (April 1999). "La Part du mal: essai sur l'imaginaire de Jules Romains dans 'Les Hommes de bonne volonté' by Dirck Degraeve (review)". The Modern Language Review. 94 (2): 547–548. JSTOR 3737179.
  4. ^ a b "Unanimism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 October 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  5. ^ Taylor, Karen L. (2006). The Facts on File Companion to the French Novel. Infobase Publishing. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-8160-7499-0.

Further readingEdit

  • Walter, Felix (1936). "Unanimism and the Novels of Jules Romains". Proceedings of the Modern Language Association. 51 (3): 863–871. JSTOR 458274.
  • McLaurin, Allen (1981). "Virginia Woolf and Unanimism". Journal of Modern Literature. 9 (1): 115–122. JSTOR 3831279.