Jules Romains

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Romains, Jules (1885-1972)

Famous French author who first studied the phenomenon of eyeless sight. Born Louis Farigoule on August 26, 1885, at Saint-Julien, Chapteuil in Velay, in the Haute-Loire district of France, he grew up in Paris. He was a talented scholar and received his bachelor's degree by 1903. In that year Romains also had a sudden mystical experience of universalism, which he embodied in a philosophy he called "Unanism" and expressed in his book of poems La Vie Unanime (1908).

In 1909, he received his degree in philosophy and science, and become a professor of philosophy at the Lycée of Brest. He published more poems, a play, and a novel before World War I shattered his universalist hopes of human society. After the war he devoted much time to travel and writing.

His book on eyeless sight is his only scientific work. First published in France in the early 1920s, it deals with his research in developing vision in blind people through a little-known faculty of perception usually associated with psychics. The book was ridiculed by his colleagues and he was refused access to subjects for experiments. He abandoned his scientific research, and under the name "Jules Romains" became a universally acclaimed poet, dramatist, and novelist. He is best known for his vast series of novels surveying the world scene from the beginning of the twentieth century on, published in English as Men of Good Will in 27 volumes (1932-48). Romains died August 14, 1972.

The subject of eyeless sight was revived in the 1960s with the Soviet experiments in "fingertip vision" with Rosa Kuleshova, and Romains lived to see his own research taken up again by Dr. Yvonne Duplessis in France.


Romains, Jules. La vision extra-rétinienne. English edition as: Eyeless Sight. London, 1924. Reprint, New York: Citadel Press, 1978.

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Jules Romains (zhül rômăN´), 1885–1972, French writer, whose original name was Louis Farigoule. A brilliant student of philosophy, he became known as the chief exponent of unanimism, a literary theory positing the collective spirit or personality, e.g., the spirit of a city. This concept pervades an early collection of his poems, La Vie unanime (1908). Romains's principal work is the novel cycle Men of Good Will (27 vol., 1932–46; tr. 14 vol., 1933–46), which gives an intricate and panoramic view of French life from 1908 to 1933. Among his other novels are Mort de quelqu'un (1911; tr. The Death of a Nobody, 1914) and Les Copains (1913; tr. The Boys in the Back Room, 1937). His plays, considered masterpieces of French theater, include Cromedeyre-le-Vieil (1920), in which an isolated village returns to primitive ways, and the satirical farce Knock; ou, Le Triomphe de la médecine (1923; tr. Doctor Knock, 1925).

See study by D. Boak (1974).