WHAT I BELIEVE by Francois Mauriac
Kirkus Star


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Francois Mauriac, now pushing 80, has about three reputations: first, of course, as Nobel Prize novelist, then as a militant moralist for the readers of a weekly Parisian newspaper (Mauriac we know denies being a moralist, but these days doesn't everyone?), and lastly as a confessional-essayist writing on themes relating to the Catholic temperament and theology. What I Believe, published in France last year, fits the latter category. Tenderly translated and introduced by Wallace Fowlie, it is a testimonial to the contradictions inherent in the human condition and the consecration of them through faith-faith which is like ""that thread which starts at the beginning and which has never been broken"" no matter how much the material of which the thread is a part be shot full of shoddy self-deception, soiling self-aggrandizement. There is only one drama, says Mauriac, the drama of debate between man and his Creator; each man is unique, is irreplaceable and each can be the hero of that drama whose struggle is salvation, whose stake is eternity. Mauriac's prose has a parable-like poignancy, and although there are echoes of a Pascalian and Augustinian good-and-evil dualism, and even a pastiche of Kierkegaard, (""My eyes have seen nothing, I have heard nothing, and yet I do not refuse the mystery. I enter into it and sink into it. It envelops me and bears me up""), Mauriac is still a great figure: Christian of conviction and commitment. The concluding section, is an autobiographical account celebrating a youthful despair and- yes- a divine revelation. Beautiful. As is the book.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1963
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.