A short note on Unanimisme, French poetic movement

Unanimisme is a French poetic movement developed in c. 1908–11 by Jules Romains. It is based on ideas of collective consciousness and collective emotion, and on crowd behaviour, where members of a group do or think something simultaneously. It was probably inspired by Walt Whitman’s concepts of universal brotherhood and had a kind of didactic and reforming purpose and spirit: to reveal the soul of the group and the collective society, hence the idea of unanimity.

There were several poets involved, principally Georges Duhamel (1884–1966), Luc Durtain, Charles Vildrac, René Arcos and Georges Chennevière. They favoured what was called ‘poésie immédiate’, a poetry shorn of anything symbolic or allegorical, without assonance or end-rhyme and possessing distinctive accentual rhythms. The most important work of this movement is Jules Romains’ Les Hommes de bonne volonté (1932-47). The main statements of intention and practice were Notes sur la technique poétique (1910) and Petit traité de versification (1923).

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