Romains, Jules (1885–1972)
Famous French author who first studied the phenomenon
of eyeless sight. Born Louis Farigoule on August 26, 1885, at
Saint-Julien, Chapteuil in Velay, in the Haute-Loire district of
France, he grew up in Paris. He was a talented scholar and received
his bachelor’s degree by 1903. In that year Romains also
had a sudden mystical experience of universalism, which he
embodied in a philosophy he called ‘‘Unanism’’ and expressed
in his book of poems La Vie Unanime (1908).
In 1909, he received his degree in philosophy and science,
and become a professor of philosophy at the Lycée of Brest. He
published more poems, a play, and a novel before World War
I shattered his universalist hopes of human society. After the
war he devoted much time to travel and writing.
His book on eyeless sight is his only scientific work. First
published in France in the early 1920s, it deals with his research
in developing vision in blind people through a littleknown
faculty of perception usually associated with psychics.
The book was ridiculed by his colleagues and he was refused access
to subjects for experiments. He abandoned his scientific
research, and under the name ‘‘Jules Romains’’ became a universally
acclaimed poet, dramatist, and novelist. He is best
known for his vast series of novels surveying the world scene
from the beginning of the twentieth century on, published in
English as Men of Good Will in 27 volumes (1932–48). Romains
died August 14, 1972.
The subject of eyeless sight was revived in the 1960s with the
Soviet experiments in ‘‘fingertip vision’’ with Rosa Kuleshova,
and Romains lived to see his own research taken up again by
Dr. Yvonne Duplessis in France.
Sources
Romains, Jules. La vision extra-rétinienne. English edition as
Eyeless Sight. London, 1924. Reprint, New York Citadel Press,
1978.