French art historian, member of the Académie française who also published about English literature. For the prestigious and conservative French magazine Revue des deux mondes he wrote mostly about art history, but he also published a number of articles about JJ's work that the writer appreciated because it validated his work in a French context that was decidedly not part of the avant-garde.
Gillet studied at the prestigious Ecole normale supérieure in Paris where he befriended Charles Péguy and Romain Rolland. He published on the history of art, books for which he received prizes from the Académie française which made him a member in 1935. He had books on medieval art, but also on Watteau and Monet, on Raphael, on Saint Francis and on religious art.
At the Revue des deux mondes, Gillet was responsible for foreign literature, which is why he published an essay on JJ in 1925. As he himself explained later on, this mostly negative response to Ulysses was influenced by his British friend Edmund Gosse, who had dismissed JJ as a pornographer. JJ welcomed the article because it acknowledged his work from outside the radical circle of French literature as in the Nouvelle revue française. The two were introduced by Sylvia Beach early in 1931 and became quite close: in the same year he published a very positive essay in Revue des deux mondes on "Work in Progress," which he compared with Dante's Divine Comedy, although privately he did not like Finnegans Wake when it was finally published in 1939. After the author's death in 1941, Gillet collected the essays in Stèle pour Joyce, a little book on JJ. Geert Lernout
James Joyce's Unpublished Letters: A Digital Edition and Text-Genetic Study.
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