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French Literature term paper

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"The work of Bernanos constitutes a major testimonial of our time. His works will gradually reveal their essential meaning, which is doubtless of a prophetic order. His books are warnings, especially on modern man's loss of liberty, of many kinds: political, economic and humanistic. The extremely dramatic character he confers on belief in Christ will alienate the non-believer, as it has done for the work of Leon Bloy. Bernanos is the supreme example of a literary presence in French literature. He recalls and even reincarnates one aspect of French civilization, the baptistry of Rheims and the adventure of the Crusaders. Nothing in his work can really be understood unless it is seen from a Christian perspective, as engaging a real man behind a fictional character and, behind him, a nation, and behind it, the entire world. Bernanos, like Malraux, writes from an historical viewpoint. His works were written for our time and yet far surpass our time in their attempt to explain it. He was the first to see in the priest the real hero and martyr of the modern world. And he, in the tradition of Leon Bloy, assigned to Catholics their real function of worriers and disturbers of the peace, of consciences never at rest. He hurls his priest into all possible dramas of life, sexuality and death."
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"To re-read the Roman Comique just after reading the Grand Cyrus came into the present plan partly by design and partly by accident; but one had not fully anticipated the advantage of doing so. The contrast of the two, and the general relation between them could, indeed, escape no one; but an interval of a great many years since the last reading of Scarron's work had not unnaturally caused forgetfulness of the deliberate and minute manner in which he himself points that contrast, and even now and then satirises the Cyrus by name. The system of inset Histoires, beginning with the well-told if borrowed story of Don Carlos of Aragon and his "Invisible Mistress, is, indeed, hardly a contrast except in point of the respective lengths of the digressions, nor does it seem to be meant as a parody. It has been said that this "inset-" system, whether borrowed from the episodes of the ancients or descended from the constant divagations of the mediaeval romances, is very old, and proved itself uncommonly tenacious of life. But the difference between the openings of the two books can hardly have been other than intentional on the part of the later writer; and it is a very memorable one, showing nothing less than the difference between romance and novel, between academic generalities and "realist" particularism, and between not a few other pairs of opposites. It has been fully allowed that the overture of the Grand Cyrus is by no means devoid of action, even of bustle, and that it is well done of its kind. But that kind is strongly marked in the very fact that there is a sort of faintness in it. The burning of Sinope, the distant vessel, the street-fighting that follows, are what may be called "cartoonish"-large washes of pale colour. The talk, such as there is, is stage-talk of the pseudo-grand style. It is curious that Scarron himself speaks of the Cyrus as being the most "furnitured" romance, le roman le plus meuble, that he knows. To a modern eye the interiors are anything but distinct, despite the elaborate ecphrases, some of which have been quoted."
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"The conventionist and the bishop are equally saintly, but the bishop who is working inside the Catholicism in which he was raised, still bemoans the outrages committed by the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in 1793. The conversation between the two men not only confronts superficial conflicting ideologies, but acts as a confessional for the bishop. The bishop, thinking of the excesses of the revolution, is very politely reminded of the excesses committed during the ancien regime. The conventionist "G" is a believer in a way which many a straightminded orthodox person would find hard to comprehend. He knows of God, and of his charity. From this conversation, the bishop learns and accepts the pardon of the dying conventionist, who is neither truly a revolutionary nor an atheist, just a man who did his duty as he saw it. "G" who, on a superficial level, could be seen as an unbeliever, brings to mind the sanctity of those who appear without belief, what Albert Camus called the appeal to belief. Camus stated that there was only one problem for the twentieth century: how to become a saint without believing in God--how to be holy without adhering to dogmatic systems. This is exactly the stance of "G" which is finally understood by Bishop Myriel. It is for these reasons that the bishop seems to be having his confession heard by the republican. It is for this reason, when asked his identity."
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