Paul Louis Georges Bernanos (behr-nah-nohs) spent his childhood in the Artois village of Fressin, surrounded by the idyllic landscape that later provided the background for his eight novels. His education and family life were steeped in an uncompromising Catholicism, which deepened and intensified during his studies in law and letters at the University of Paris. After receiving his degree, he began a career as a political journalist, contributing mostly to such royalist conservative periodicals as Action française and Revue universelle. Bernanos believed that democratic reforms were too closely linked to consumer capitalism and would result in spiritual alienation as well as political and social exploitation.
During World War I, Bernanos served at the front for four years. Afterward, he suffered from periodic bouts of depression. The publication of his first novel, The Star of Satan, brought him considerable notice. In this compelling story, a troubled priest fluctuates between mystical spirituality and the haunting appeal of determinism. Bernanos contributed to the development of the modern theological novel, in which the priest as savior/preserver/destroyer represents the spiritual cleansing of the Church.
The Diary of a Country Priest, for which Bernanos was awarded the Grand Prix du Roman of the French Academy, reinforces the idea that the fate of the priest is connected to that of the parishioners....
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