CHAPTER ONE relates all the known facts concerning Mauclair's
parentage and family circumstances, his childhood and adolescence,
from his birth in 1872 until 1890, the date of his entry into the
Symbolist milieux. His early friendships, activities and first
published work are described.
CHAPTER TWO concerns his life in the period 1891 to 1893 when he
was most of all one of the younger generation Symbolists. The
growth of his contributions to the Symbolist reviews is described,
as are his important friendships with other writers and artists both
young and old. His life at this time is often examined through un- published letters, especially those, of paramount importance, which
he wrote to Gide and to Mallarmé. His involvement with Paul Fort's
'Théâtre d'Art' and Lugné -Poe's ' Théâtre de l'Oeuvre' is outlined.
Equally significant facts concerning his material circumstances,
his financial worries and his ill health are considered.
CHAPTER THREE : His early ideas, seen primarily in reviews, are discussed : his poetry and views on contemporary poets; his work in
prose, short stories or 'contes'; his ideas on, and activities in
the theatre; and his theories expressed in essays on individualism,
idealism and anarchism.
CHAPTER FOUR : Bound up with the early years was the production of
Mauclair's first separate works : the small but significant Conférence sur Stéphane Mallarmé; the larger volume of symbolist theorising, Eleusis, causeries sur la cité intérieure. This chapter sets
out what is known of the genesis of these works, analyses their content and relates them to earlier writing by Mauclair.
CHAPTER FIVE advances the description of Mauclair's life from late
1893 until 1897. The central event of these years was a sentimental
crisis which involved Mauclair, Maeterlinck and Georgette Leblanc.
The evidence to support this interpretation of events is set out,
and the suggestion is made, supported by comments from correspondence, that this crisis was a determining factor in Mauclair's decision to abandon the outer trappings of Symbolism and to turn to new
styles of life and writing.
CHAPTER SIX analyses the articles and books published by Mauclair
between 1894 and 1898. The former reflect the gradual changing of
their author's attitudes, whereas the latter, because of publishing
delays, are largely a product of the Symbolist years. The poetry
of earlier years is to be contrasted with the content of Sonatines
d'Automne, the early stories are to be compared with those of Clefs
d'or. Couronne de Clarté is Mauclair's most extensive work of symbolist inspiration, and, it is suggested, is closely linked to
Gide's Voyage d'Urien. The influence of such figures as Mallarmé,
Villiers de l'Isle -Adam and Verlaine is to be seen, and the results
of the sentimental and artistic crises described in Chapter Five
begin to make themselves felt. Mauclair's later moral stance was becoming evident and is first stated in L'Orient vierge.
CHAPTER SEVEN : Having dealt extensively with Mauclair's Symbolist
period and subsequent disenchantment, in this chapter two novels
are studied s Le Soleil des morts (1898) and L'Ennemie des rives
(1899). They state in romanticised form "le mal nerveux de l'époque"
and "l'étude des remèdes" - the dilemmas and partial solutions of
the younger generation, as Mauclair understood them. Since the first
is held to be a 'roman à clefs', space is spent summarising possible
identifications of the characters.
CHAPTER EIGHT As there was certainly a turning point in Mauclair's
life in 1897, this chapter describes what is known of him afterwards, from 1898 until 1909. His attitude towards the Dreyfus Affair
is examined because of the significance he clearly thought it had in
the moral life of France as well as in the ' système d'idées' which he
maintained he was elaborating in the many essays written at this
time. Mauclair is seen through the eyes of many contemporaries by
studying the documents (for the most part unpublished) assembled by
G. Jean-Aubry for his short biography of Mauclair (1905). The tenor
of Mauclair's life in these years is described from other sources,
but most important of all is the analysis of the breakdown of his
friendship with Gide.
CHAPTER NINE explores the enormous volume of work produced between
1898 and 1909. We observe the fluent affirmation of Mauclair's
moral idealism, set out in his 'système d'idées'. Increasingly
however, the conflict becomes apparent between the pressures of the
vocation, leading to books of sincere artistic endeavour such as L'Art en silence, and the pressures of the 'métier', leading to
innumerable articles of varying quality and to hasty volumes of
art criticism and the like. Creative work, the novels, Les Mères
sociales and La Ville lumière, or the poetry, Le Sang parle, also
receives examination in detail.
CHAPTER TEN is devoted to Mauclair's art criticism in the period
encompassed by the previous nine chapters. This examination of a distinct theme is given to provide a résumé of Mauclair's ideas
throughout the studied period, and to underline the often divergent
development of Mauclair's standards and attitudes and the attitudes
and standards of the time in which he lived.
The CONCLUSION brings to light some information concerning Mauclair's life and work between 1909 and the time of his death in 1945.