Henri-Pierre Roché - Biography


Roché was born in Paris, France. In 1898, he was an art student at the Académie Julian.

Roché was a respected journalist as well as an art collector and dealer. At the turn of the 20th century, he became close friends with a number of young artists from the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris including: Manuel Ortiz de Zárate, Marie Vassilieff, and also from Montmartre: Max Jacob, and Pablo Picasso. He was at home in the world of artists, collectors, and gallerists. He introduced Leo and Gertrude Stein to Picasso in November 1905. Leo described Roché as “a tall man with an inquiring eye under an inquisitive forehead, wanted to know something more about everything. He was a born liaison officer, who knew everybody and wanted everybody to know everybody else." Roché is also mentioned in Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, chapter 3, in much the same terms. She particularly remembered him for having read Three Lives and recognized early her value as a writer.

Henri-Pierre Roché was also a friend of Francis Picabia, Constantin Brâncuşi, and Marcel Duchamp, with whom he traveled to New York city in 1916 following his discharge from the French army. There, he and Duchamp teamed up with Beatrice Wood to create The Blind Man, a magazine that was one of the earliest manifestations of the Dada art movement in the United States.

Noted for his womanizing, Roché married twice. In his later years, he wrote two successful novels, though the success of the novels came only after his death. Though biographies of Beatrice Wood link Roché's first novel (and the subsequent film), Jules et Jim, with the love triangle between Duchamp, Wood, and himself, other sources link their triangle to Roché's unfinished novel, Victor. Jules et Jim was based on the triangle between Roché, Franz Hessel, who translated Marcel Proust into German, as did the character Jules, and Helen Grund, who became Hessel's wife. Beatrice Wood commented on this topic on p. 136 of her 1985 autobiography, I Shock Myself:

Roché lived in Paris with his wife Denise, and had by now written Jules et Jim... Because the story concerns two young men who are close friends and a woman who loves them both, people have wondered how much was based on Roché, Marcel, and me. I cannot say what memories or episodes inspired Roché, but the characters bear only passing resemblance to those of us in real life!

His second major novel, also based on an episode of his life, was published in 1956 as Les deux anglaises et le continent. Both novels, although written by a man who was quite advanced in age, exude an amount of vitality and freshness not often seen in French romantic stories of the time. French director François Truffaut, who befriended Roché when Roché was in his final years, was so impressed by them that he went on to adapt both to the big screen. The adaptation of Jules and Jim by Truffaut was the main cause of the book's belated success.

Henri-Pierre Roché died in 1959 in Sèvres, Hauts-de-Seine.

Read more about this topic:  Henri-Pierre Roché

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