Bernanos, Georges (1888–1948) By Valour, Vincent
Although still widely read in the 1950s, Bernanos has now become an out dated author, if not entirely forgotten. Though he had a very high reputation among his fellow writers — Claudel, Mauriac, and Malraux admired him — Bernanos has always remained an isolated figure. His Catholic faith was the driving force behind his whole work, as a novelist and a polemicist, and is likely to be the reason why his writings have become obsolete. Fulminating against the liberalizing spirit of modern France, which led to spiritual decadence, Bernanos was part of the circle of Charles Maurras and Léon Daudet until 1932. Maurras and Daudet were the intellectual leaders of the monarchist and extreme right movement L’Action Française. Nevertheless, Bernanos deeply denounces the violence of the pro-Franco, as well as the dangers associated with Fascism and Nazism, in his famous pamphlet Les Grands Cimetières sous la lune (1938). His novels, always extremely profound, present the spiritual conflict of good and evil. His two most famous novels, Sous le soleil de Satan (1926) and Journal d’un curé de campagne (1936), revolve around the humble figure of a country priest confronted with the apparent absence of God in the gloomy landscapes of Northern France; they exemplify the Christian message of salvation in the face of failure and death.