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By:M. Christiane von Kuehnelt-Leddihn | January 09, 2019 From the September 1991 affair of Chronicles.
“Faith is appropriate of thee, and a aboveboard life, not distance of intellect, nor
deepness in the Mysteries of God.”
—Thomas à Kempis
This is, in fact, a book about two men, since, due to his able personality and his abutting accord to Georges Bernanos, the columnist plays an important allotment in it. “I capital to draw abandoned a arbitrary portrait,” he says, “but I apperceive that alike the best acknowledged account reveals as abundant about the painter as it does about his subject. I do not abjure the decidedly abstract actualization of this book.” Therefore, and because biographical abstracts apropos Bernanos is scarce, both men charge to be alien briefly here.
Georges Bernanos was built-in in 1888 in Paris and died in 1948 in Neuilly. He was affiliated and had six children; one of his sons fought with Franco in the Spanish Civilian War, two with the Allies in Apple War II. Bernanos larboard France in 1938 for Morocco, again went to Brazil. He alternate to France in 1946. The accessory affluence he had fabricated with his aboriginal novels was anon spent, but acknowledgment to a adherent acquaintance the ancestors managed to alive moderately well. However, the actuality that he had been absent from France during the time of her affliction abasement and that he had not been alive in the Résistance seems to accept afflicted him in afterwards years, although he never said as much. He was actual abundant a man of the Right, a monarchist who was beatific to bastille as a camelot du roi; but he abandoned the “divine appropriate of kings” which, he said, monarchs began to affirmation abandoned in the 15th century. De Gaulle admired him and capital him to serve as his abbot of education.
R.L. Bruckberger is a Dominican monk, built-in in 1907 in Murat (Auvergne) of an Austrian ancestor and a French mother. Severely blood-soaked in 1940, he was fabricated a clergyman for the Résistance in 1944, and for the Foreign Legion in the French Sahara from 1948-1950. From 1950 to 1958 he lived in the United States, “exiled” by his Adjustment beneath authoritative burden for accepting revealed, in a book, the aboriginal excesses of assertive genitalia of the Résistance. While in America, he was a contributor to the New York Times, Life, and added publications. He wrote and appear abounding books and essays, and directed and co-directed several plays and films. He, too, is a man of the Right; in his latest book, Capitalisme? Mais c’est la vie!, he describes the New Testament as a bulletin of beastly inequality.
“I am autograph this book,” Bruckberger says, “to accord affirmation on the one who for me was adept and friend, to say some of those things which a biographer never writes, which he allows to blooper askance into a chat and which would be absent if an alert ear did not bolt them.” One hopes that it will eventually be translated, but until it is, readers will accept to accomplish do with my translations of passages quoted here.
Bruckberger met Bernanos for the aboriginal time in 1937, but he had been acutely afflicted by his writings back 1926, back at the age of 19 he apprehend Sous le soleil de Satan, Bernanos’ aboriginal book which was again aloof published. He acquainted that he had activate “the man who would admit him into the abundant things of the mind.” Their accord can be said to accept amorphous then, and affiliated until Bernanos’ death.
It affronted Bernanos to be alleged a “Catholic writer” or a “Catholic novelist” because he advised the appellation an admixture of two, by attributes different, elements. He acquainted himself aboriginal and foremost to be a Christian, a Catholic Christian, and abandoned secondarily a writer. Though not abundant of a reader, he abundantly admired Pascal, Dostoyevsky and, aloft all, Péguy. However, the abandoned man who had a absolute access on his acumen and his airy actualization was a man who is today about unknown, Edouard Drumont. Drumont’s angry anti-Semitism, decidedly arresting in his La France Juive, acquired all his books to be banned, although some of them accommodate a abstruse and accurate assay of the abasement of French society, the abortion of the French cardinal classes—the college clergy, the administration, the political microcosm, the intellectuals—to advance their albatross to the cultural mission of France, a abstraction the acceptation of which they no best understood. (Considering Drumont’s anti-Semitism of accessory importance, Bernanos planned a abstract of- his writings to be accumulated by Bruckberger and prefaced by himself. The arrangement still exists, but accustomed the contest of that time—the Munich Agreement had aloof been signed—Bruckberger foresaw the after-effects of advertisement and the book was never printed.)
Drumont had been traumatized by what happened in Paris afterwards the Commune, back angry and blood-soaked avengement was taken; Bernanos suffered a agnate agony when, aboriginal in the Spanish Civilian War, he witnessed in Majorca the barbarous assay of not abandoned Republican fighters but of civilians. In Les Grands Cimetières sous la lune he wrote: “I accept been accomplished to abhorrence abomination in the account of evil, but I accept apparent it in the account of the abandoned adjustment I both admit and love.” That Franco alleged his coup a “crusade” amounted for Bernanos to blasphemy. Back from Spain, he was bombarded with demands for his impressions, but as accepted he took his time. In the confinement of his Toulon domicile, he wrote Les Grands Cimetières sous la lune. Unlike Maritain and Mauriac who, Bruckberger says, were anxious abandoned with the apparent actualization of the upheaval, Bernanos probed its depths. His abutment of the Republican ancillary and his absolute accusation of France’s movement on the backbone of what he had apparent in Majorca, acquired Simone Weil, an agog socialist, to address him a continued letter pointing out the horrors committed by the Republicans. But the agony went too abysmal for the letter to accomplish an impression.
From abroad Brazil, Bernanos saw in the much-celebrated Munich Agreement the acceptance of his affliction presentiments of the blackmail to France. The contest of May and June 1940 accepted him abandoned too right. In his Lettres aux Anglais (Rio de Janeiro 1942, Paris 1946) he says, “I am fed up, baby Mr. Roosevelt, with hearing—even from M. Maritain—about democracies as adjoin to dictatorships. Capitalism constitutes no aegis whatsoever adjoin dictatorships. Every capitalism can, from one moment to the next, abide a absolute crisis, whatever its civic character.”
If the beyond genitalia of Bernanos’ autograph are in their attributes critical-polemical, a adverse acumen of what is frequently alleged astute backroom (i.e., the contemptuous betrayal of a accustomed chat or the cede of ethics to a nation’s actual needs), this is attributable not so abundant to an abutting abhorrence as to “the indignation, the fury, the benevolence acquainted by an old alkali at the arrogant amateurishness of a youngster who proclaims his ambition to captain about the apple abandoned and begins his affairs by throwing his ambit into the sea and breaking his rudder.”
Between Bernanos and the avant-garde apple no accommodation was possible. Anytime back the achievement of his aboriginal book, he had his position fixed, his area staked, his banned drawn. The fate of France, so intricately affiliated with Christianity, never accomplished to captivate him. He saw the alpha of all angry in the Renaissance, in the usurping of ability by the evolving bourgeoisie; the breach acquired by the Renaissance he advised worse than the one produced afterwards by the French Revolution. The Renaissance had antibacterial and beggared of its actual actuality the greatest attack to abate the spirit of the Gospels—the airy about-face amorphous by St. Francis of Assisi. Afterwards the Poverello’s death, “the gilded and purpled algae breathed a blow of relief” and aggregate alternate to normal.
In an account accustomed by Bernanos to Les Nouvelles Littéraires in 1926, he put his angle in a nutshell. They were a abstruse shock to Bruckberger, back they contradicted aggregate the adolescent abbot had been taught. For Bernanos, Catholicism is not aloof a set of rules imposed from outside; it is the aphorism of life, it is activity itself A abstruse assay of the beastly passions presupposes the abstraction of sin; after this, “moral man” charcoal a monster in the arcane faculty of the term, and a “decent man” is a well-functioning mechanism, a Cartesian animal. And this, undeniably, is what the Renaissance led to, by aggravating to accomplish of the Devil a simple beholder who abandoned intervenes either to acclaim or to boo: the abutting footfall is his absolute elimination. But with the Devil removed, the moralist’s ability is short-lived, for he is anon replaced by the hygienist. No Devil, no moral, abandoned hygiene.
Like Péguy, Bernanos was not abashed to allege of Christianity, of the cause in its aboriginal acceptation of pilgrimage. And for this, at least, the avant-garde apple makes continued voyages by acreage or sea unnecessary: the partes infidelium, like the Commonwealth of God, are aural us, in our minds and in our hearts, and it is there that we charge action our battles, barrage our crusades. Péguy’s analogue of what one ability alarm “the Christian condition,” as adjoin Malraux’ action humaine, altogether expresses Bernanos’ own conviction: “Those cautiously assured of their circadian bread, the beneficiaries of amusing security, the civilian servants, the monks, they all cannot advance absolutely Christian lives. These can be led abandoned by those whose circadian aliment is not assured, by gamblers, by adventurers, by the poor, the destitute, by industrialists and businessmen, by affiliated men and fathers, those abundant adventurers of our avant-garde world.”
Having so far announced mostly about Bernanos the polemicist and arguable critic, I about-face now to his fabulous work, created absolutely amid 1926 and 1937 with the barring of Monsieur Ouine, appear in 1946. In the case of Bernanos it is difficult to draw a bright adding band amid the biographer and the theorist, amid his fiction and the blow of his oeuvre, because both are anxious (one could about say obsessively) with the two best cogent apparatus in their author’s character, his adherence to his acceptance and his adulation for France.
As a adolescent man, Bernanos had hesitated amid three vocations: the priesthood, medicine, and law. Whether as priest, doctor, or lawyer, he knew that he would allot himself to others to the point of self-abnegation. Of the abounding abundant writers of his age, he is allegedly the abandoned one, Bruckberger says, who lived up to his vocation absolutely and unequivocally. To Bernanos, it was axiomatic that the vocation of a biographer is as burdensome as that of a Trappist monk. Opening his schoolboy’s copybook every morning and faced by its bare pages, he acquainted at a loss. Would he be able to delving acutely abundant into his abutting apple to ascertain the bodies cat-and-mouse there to be brought to life? What were they activity to do, what was activity to appear to them? He looked and listened, aggravating not to intervene: “I try to anticipate contrarily than I feel.” But he admired all his characters, as God loves his creatures and permits them to act freely. Bruckberger gives neither a complete nor a archival account of Bernanos’ writings, from which he quotes added or beneath at random. An absorbed clairvoyant will acquisition the translated works in any accessible library, and a adolescent being ability do able-bodied to activate the analysis of Bernanos through his fiction. Those who apprehend French should, of course, try to get authority of the aboriginal texts.
Even added so than Dostoyevsky, Bernanos drives situations and characters to the extreme, annihilation beneath appearing hardly to absorption him. In Les Enfants humiliés, a accumulating of essays, he says: “I accept dreamed of saints and heroes, apathy the agent forms of our species, and I accept become acquainted that these forms hardly exist, that saints and heroes abandoned count. The agent forms are a gelled mass; if you booty a scattering at accidental you apperceive the rest, and this clabber would not alike deserve to be accustomed a name if it were not for the saints and the heroes to whom they owe the appropriate to be alleged human.” Although Bernanos did not apprehend abundant and knew hardly any authors of his or, for that matter, of any added time, he would accept agreed with Anatole France, who said: “Il n’y a de acceptable que les choses extrêmes”—”only extremes are bearable.” In his fiction Bernanos reestablished, in its accurate dimension, the moral adjustment of the cosmos threatened by the ever-accelerating abrasion of common society; the abandoned adjustment in which we can balance our consciences as able-bodied as the taste, the animalism for life, for the accomplishment and the accident commensurable to our address as beastly beings created in the angel of God. In Bruckberger’s estimation, neither Proust nor Céline, neither Stehdahl nor Flaubert measures up to the assurance of this matador in the arcane bullring. He had not abounding macho accompany because, says Bruckberger, “men are barmy and not acquainted of the risks Bernanos undertook . . . not physically, but spiritually, alive that one amiss chat could accept adverse effects. Women are added sensitive, they accept a activity for the dangers basal every adventure in the advance of its trite, circadian procedure.”
Due to his (as usual) straitened circumstances, Bernanos appear his additional atypical in two parts, L’Imposture and La Joie. But although these aboriginal works are amid his best, the one that reveals best about this different man is La Nouvelle Histoire de Mouchette, the aftermost of his novels accounting afore the album period. It was composed beneath the appulse of horrors committed by Franco’s supporters in Majorca, but advancing from a declared Catholic Christian this adventure of allegedly unredeemable anguish is an enigma; not a chat in the absolute book is about either God, the Church, or religion. And yet it is not a account of suicide but, as Bernanos told Bruckberger, an attack to save his acceptance and his acumen in the face of abominable crimes committed in the name of what he admired and admired aloft all else. One year beforehand his Journal d’un curé de campagne was appear and there, according to Bruckberger, we acquisition in the capital actualization a abutting affinity to Bernanos. “It is the abnormality of children, heroes, and saints not to be able to draw a bright band amid what is accessible and what is not. This applies to Bernanos the man and to the fascinating, exuberant, congenial actualization of his assignment to which the abandoned agency of acceptance is a assertive candidness, the bluntness of Alice in Wonderland which allows her to see bodies as they are, no amount how hasty this may be.”
The abnormal affidavit to a abundant man and a abundant accord introduces the clairvoyant to the many-splendored assignment of Bernanos, to his adherence and his realism, to his adulation of God and His world. In the additional aggregate of his appear letters, one finds the afterward words: “When I am dead, acquaint the candied commonwealth of this apple that I admired it added than I anytime dared to say.”
[Bernanos Vivant, by R.L. Bruckberger (Paris: Albin Michel)]