Beginning in adolescence, Gustave Roud kept a diary. It remained private until his death. Produced on a variety of media, more than anything his diary functions on an aesthetic level but also works as a memory-keeper: this is how Roud engaged spontaneously—sometimes during his outdoor walks—with the instants that seized him. The writing here is distinguished by its high quality, which is often so good that numerous notes prefigure later poems in which they will be effectively repeated and re-written: a bit like a workshop, his diary often resides at the origins of his poetic creation. Beyond this, his diary writing also exposes Roud's more anxious character, haunted by desires and doubts, all while tracing his own spiritual journey. Roud both questions himself regarding his work and his vocation, but also expresses his melancholy about his solitude, his “difference” or what is tragic about his existence. Painfully introspective, while remaining ever modest, his diary delivers a moving self-portrait of the author which fluctuates with the rhythm of the seasons and his daily emotions.

Gustave Roud, Page manuscrite du journal, Fonds Gustave Roud, CRLR.

Recommended reading

Roud’s diary was originally published in a first edited version (Bertil Galland, 1982), for which Philippe Jaccottet retained only the most "poetic" extracts—to the detriment of the more circumstantial or referential notes. Following upon this initial work, a second edition—more erudite and complete—was produced by Claire Jaquier and Anne-Lise Delacrétaz (Empreintes, 2004), and it shows that the diary’s charm also resides in the contrasts and discontinuities of his daily writing. One should also note that Roud’s diary practice has interested several critics, and not insignificant ones: Jean Rousset dedicated a foundational article to Roud in 1987 (Cahiers Gustave Roud n°5).