Belief and Narrative Form in the Novels of Franҫois Mauriac
‘De Bloy à Huysmans, et à Claudel, le Magnificat n’a cessé de retentir dans les lettres franҫaises’ 1 wrote Mauriac, the first of the twentieth century Catholic novelists to be discussed in this book. Such is the distorting effect of centuries’ beginnings and ends that his comment on the rise of a new Catholic literature might be mistaken for an elegiac description of a lost age. The apparent chronological gulf between him and the nineteenth century is one probable reason why Mauriac has not often been studied in the perspective of the Catholic novel tradition.2 Yet he was born in the year of Germinal and Bel-Ami, at a time when, though Flaubert had just died, Edmond de Goncourt and Barbey were still living. When Huysmans died, Mauriac was in his twenties, and well into his thirties at the time of Bloy’s death, and a close friend of Bloy’s god-children, Jacques and Raïssa Maritain. If situating Mauriac’s work in the context of the nineteenth-century opposition of Catholic and Realist offers a new and fruitful way of looking at it, the temporal leap required to do so is more illusory than real. The gap is narrowed further by the fact that almost all Mauriac’s novels are set in the period between the turn of the century and the First World War, and reflect the same middle-class Catholic world accused of mediocrity by Bloy and Huysmans, and of racial bigotry by Zola.
KeywordsCentral Character Fictional Character Spiritual Experience Fictional World Religious Change
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Notes and References
- 8.J. Petit (ed.), Œuvres romanesques et théâtrales (Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1978–85) II, 815–6. References to this edition shown in the text as P.Google Scholar
- 12.Caroline Mauriac (ed.), Lettres d’une vie (Grasset, 1981) 14.Google Scholar
- 30.Claude Mauriac, Conversations avec André Gide (Albin Michel, 1951) 156.Google Scholar