Georges Bernanos' Debt to ThÉrÈse of Lisieux
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This study examines in chronological order Bernanos' entire work, fiction and non-fiction, in search of Thérèse's presence. It points out explicit textual references to the saint, whether to her name, quotations from works, or to earlier studies done by scholars attempting to show her influence on the author. It traces Thérèse's implicit presence in Bernanos' fictional characters, whether they reveal parallel or reverse images of the saint. It also traces Thérèse's message in many of Bernanos' favorite themes: heroic childhood, the acceptance of weakness, the uniting of personal suffering with the Holy Agony, and the attitude of approaching God with a beggar's empty hands. This close analysis of Bernanos' debt to Thérèse of Lisieux opens new perspectives, and answer's Gaucher's request for an exhaustive examination of her presence in Bernanos' work.
"Part One searches for explicit references from the saint's autobiography and other writings in Bernanos' seven novels, correspondence, and voluminous polemical works. It is a painstaking and detailed piece of detective work. Part II tackles the more nebulous realm of the 'implicit' Thérèsian presence in the novelist's work, an exercise which demands both a thorough acquaintance with Thérèsian spirituality and writings as well as in intimate knowledge of the crooks and crannies of Bernanos' labyrinthine imagination. . . . All in all, the expectations raised by this book's rather prestigious forewords are satisified, and Gaucher's forty-year-old wish has been ably answered. Dorschell is to be congratulated for this important contribution to understanding one of the greatest novelists of our century." - Michael R. Tobin
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