Le Cardinal de Retz et ses "Memoires": Etude de caracterologie litteraire
Barrio de Mendoza, Bernadette
Doctor of Philosophy
This study is an experiment in the application of the science of characterology to literary study. The methods of characterological research have been applied to the principal works of an author in an attempt to discover his true character and the impulses underlying his behaviour. The Memoirs of the Cardinal de Retz, being autobiographical, served this purpose particularly well. The introduction explains the methods of characterology and their advantages. It also gives a brief historical background of this science and defines the terms which will be used in the course of the study. Part One, Chapter One investigates the author's inherent psychological structure, i.e. "le caractere." Our analysis reveals that Retz falls into the "sanguin" category, i.e. a "non-Emotif-Actif-Primaire." As a "non-Emotif," he never loses his composure and is capable of a great presence of mind, two qualities which permitted him to excel in the field of diplomacy. Like most "actifs," Retz possesses a strong vital energy, an ability to make quick and right decisions, and a reliable, practical sense. Despite a strong determination, Retz presents the characteristics of a "Primaire," a person who obeys momentary impulses rather than being influenced by deep-rooted and lasting impressions. Chapter Two studies the main tendencies which acted upon Retz's character: his "polarite Mars" which, enhanced by a narrow "champ de conscience," led him to want to dominate others: his quest for intellectual pursuits paralleled by a keen intelligence and a remarkable memory. In Part Two, we have considered the influence of heredity, of intellectual formation, of environment and of the times on the individual's innate character. Part Three gives a general survey and an evaluation of Retz's "psychodialectique," the use he made of his idiosyncrasies and his efforts to compensate and remedy the weaknesses of his personality. In his autobiographical works he projects the image of a would-be self whom he tries to emulate. His mode of existence followed the dynamic dictates of his "Activite-Primarite," making his life a series of adventures in search of his ideal of glory. At the conclusion of his life, he seems satisfied that he had attained his goal and realized the potentialities of his character.
Biographies; Romance literature