Romains, Jules (1885-1972)

views updated May 29 2018

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.