Victor Brombert

Henry Putnam University Professor of Romance
Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, Emeritus
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Henry Putnam University Professor of Romance and Comparative Literatures

Professor Brombert was raised and educated in France (Lycée Janson-de-Sailly in Paris). After escaping from France during the German occupation, he served with the U.S. Army landing in Normandy, and after the war completed his higher education at Yale University (B.A. 1948; Ph.D. 1953) and did post-graduate work at the University of Rome during a year as a Fulbright Fellow. Professor Brombert taught at Princeton from 1975 to 1999, and was affiliated with both the Departments of Romance Languages and of Comparative Literature. Before that he had taught for 25 years at Yale University where he was Benjamin Bart Professor and served as chairman of the Department of Romance Languages from 1964 to 1975. At Princeton he served as Director of the Christian Gauss Seminars in Criticism and as Chairman of the Council of the Humanities.

His fields of specialization are French literature of the 19th and 20th centuries; the history of ideas; problems in literary criticism; comparative studies in narrative involving Italian, Russian, and German authors.

Professor Brombert is the author of fifteen books, among which The Criticism of T.S. Eliot (1949),Stendhal et la voie oblique (1954), The Intellectual Hero: Studies in the French Novel, 1880-1955 (1961),The Novels of Flaubert (1966), Stendhal: Fiction and the Themes of Freedom (1968), Flaubert par lui-même (1971), La prison romantique (1976), Victor Hugo and the Visionary Novel (1984), The Hidden Reader: Stendhal, Balzac, Hugo, Baudelaire, Flaubert (1988), In Praise of Antiheroes. Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature, 1830-1980 (1999) and a personal memoir Trains of Thought. Memories of a Stateless Youth (2002). He is the editor of Stendhal: A Collection of Critical Essays (1961), Balzac’s La Peau de chagrin (162), The Hero in Literature (1969) and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1986).

His articles and contributions to books range from Pascal to Malraux, Sartre and Camus, and include many other non-French writers: Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Büchner, Thomas Mann, Max Frisch, Italo Svevo, Primo Levi, Giorgio Bassani, Coetzee.

Professor Brombert has been visiting professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa, Italy), The Collège de France, the University of California (Berkeley) The Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, New York University, the University of Bologna (Italy), the University of Puerto Rico. He has been Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar twice.

He holds honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Chicago and Doctor of Laws from the University from The University of Toronto. A former president of the Modern Language   Association and of the Association of Literary Studies, he is the recipient of the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal from Yale University.

Among his many honors and rewards, Professor Brombert has been named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and is Commandeur des Palmes Académiques. He has received the Médaille Vermeil de la Ville de Paris. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is also a member of the American Philosophical Society, and has won the Harry Levin Prize in Comparative Literature. At Princeton University, he has been a recipient of the Howard T. Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities and of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was a Fulbright Fellow, won a National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellowship, and twice held a Guggenheim Fellowship.

His current projects are a memoir to be entitled The Sabbatical Years and a critical study, Musings on Mortality (from Tolstoy to Primo Levi).