Listen now (65 mins) | Join Heidi and Sean as they answer your questions about Georges Bernanos’ novel! Thanks so much for participating in the conversation and happy listening! Up next, we’ll be discussing Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter, starting with parts 1 and 2.
I'm sorry that Easter busyness meant I could only catch up with these later because I wanted to ask about the translation of the key line in the book. In the french it's: "tout est grace" which is: everything is grace but in the english it's: grace is everywhere. Seeing as this line is somewhat of a hermeneutic key to the whole book, I would have asked how much of a difference, if any, you think this translation makes to the overall interpretation of the book
A little late to the conversation, but here’s more hubbub for The Sparrow! I read it a few years ago as a new Catholic and I think I would love it even more now.
I do have a question about the diary. Is the reason the priest is able to disclose so much to a diary that the encounters with the Madam and Chantal aren’t under the seal of the confessional?
Art, iconography, and personality in DOACP
[topics I know only a little about but might make a good article...]
As I was listening to an enneagram podcast with two artist type 4s, I was brought to DOACP again. They even mentioned The Power and The Glory and “tout est grâce”. They also talked about 4s paired with 1s and 8s - their energizing, practical force on 4s - and I immediately thought of the Curé.
The topic came up of art as a blessing to the world versus simple self-expression. One artist also talked about a dark period in his life in which he produced some of his best art. I was reminded of our priest (arguably a classic 4, I think of when the Curé rebuked him for his cloak and hat - and face 😂) and how some readers saw his ongoing despair as self-absorption, which of course depression naturally is. Some readers mentioned being in a heavy time of life themselves, and I know from my own experience how much in those times you want things to lift you up, take you up and out of the pit, not keep you there gazing into the darkness.
Our priest has the soul of an artist, a “poet”, whose art comes through his lived life, which he vulnerably displays for the sake of others. His shame and humiliation, especially in front of someone with whom he might have been an equal and friend, the soldier, is a powerful act of love.
The moment in the book is when our priest lets the soldier, Olivier, see his tears (Doesn’t he do this at another time? I know with the Curé without realizing it. With the Countess or Chantal too?) Recalling this scene, I keep seeing the snapshot of an icon. Without going back to the text, I picture the firelight that might almost cast a halo around him and the sorrowful depth of his eyes looking at Olivier. It isn’t his own pain that he is suffering to the point of tears for. In these tête-à-têtes, it always comes from the empathy of love. I wonder how much personality plays into this for those readers who are impatient with his struggling. I’m not suggesting they should read the book anyway, because of course it only points us to the true icon of suffering and true loving Sufferer himself where we surprisingly find the triumphantly empathetic and redeeming gaze of love.
[I may be posting on this book indefinitely...I just can’t get it off my mind, and it’s still on my reading table!]
This was a great episode! Thanks so much for picking this novel. I enjoyed all the new depth and the reminder that this reading is only the beginning.
I will start by saying that I am not a native French speaker, but my degree is French literature and I have spent a great deal of time living and traveling in France. I think your answers about marking the differences in regional accents in emphasizing assumptions people make about each other is important. In this novel, I think the key to understanding it’s importance is in the creation of the sense of “otherness” and mistrust of this outsider priest coming in to take over “their” parish and how it leads to many of the misunderstandings that begin right from the start. As to the authenticity of Bernanos’ ability to capture the sounds of this particular regional dialect, I can say that he is very, very good and not particularly difficult or distracting to try to comprehend, even for a fluent, but non-native speaker. (I read a few chapters in the original French and frankly it was an easier read for me than the English. Perhaps I read a particularly poor translation, but I will also add that his style was much more fluid and pleasing to the ear.)
Just coming on here to say YES, please do "The Sparrow" on the podcast sometime. I read it this past year and have been trying to get everyone I know to read it so we can talk about it.
Ok, I have to ask another question because I specifically looked it up the previous episode and then Sean brought it up again - a moment I love where the Curé de Tourcy shared his imagining of every priest meeting Jesus two thousand years ago. First reading, I thought it was the Curé saying he was Peter in the garden on Mount Olivet. After the previous episode I thought Sean and Heidi said it was the young priest. This episode they said it was the Curé again... Reading the third time - and paying close attention to the tiny, single quotation marks - it’s the priest who is Peter and remaining “The prisoner of His Agony in the Garden”... right?