PORT-ROYAL: The Drama of the Jansenists by Marc Escholier

PORT-ROYAL: The Drama of the Jansenists

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Periodically Christians feel the urge to return to a ""golden age of holiness"" which never existed. Such an urge occurred, dramatically, in 17th and 18th century France with the rise of Jansenism an extreme form of predestination. Despite its somewhat esoteric nature and its severe, if sentimental asceticism, Jansenism gained great currency in France and, in its heyday, had its center at the famous Convent of Port-Royal. There was a great deal of animosity stirred up against the followers of Port-Royal, since Jansenists were generally (and erroneously, it happened) regarded by their fellow Catholics as crypto-Calvinists, and eventually, convinced that the new teaching was a danger to both Church and State, pope and king united to shut down Port-Royal and suppress the Jansenists. Port-Royal is the whole story of that movement, its rise and its suppression, told in a lively and popular fashion. M. Escholier's facts are accurate, at least in the broad lines of the story, although occasionally historical accuracy is sacrificed to the storyteller's art: ""Anne of Austria was madly enamoured of Mazarin."" It would have been helpful also to describe the social, intellectual, and political circumstances, peculiar to France in that epoch, which made possible the rise of Jansenism, rather than simply to chronicle, in however entertaining a fashion, the manifestations of that phenomenon. Nonetheless, this is good popular history from both the religious and the secular standpoints.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1968
Publisher: Howthorn