THE FOUNTAIN OF ARETHUSA by Maurice Zermatten

THE FOUNTAIN OF ARETHUSA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For this novel Maurice Zermatten, author of eleven novels, plays, short stories and historical studies, received the Grand Prix de Literature. The novel's theme is the conflict between good and evil and its closest counterpart is The Diary of a Country Priest. Seraphim Clivaz, priest of the small village of Flaches, one of the world's innocents -- ""a fool for Christ"", is an uneducated, destitute, sickly man who has alienated almost his parishioners -- except for a few children, the elderly and the infirm, by his unserving allegiance to Truth and by his unrelenting opposition to the malevolent and criminal Jacques Tenembart. Jacques, infuriated by the cure's denunciations determines to murder him but accidentally kills a crippled girl who had befriended Seraphim. Seemingly overcome by remorse, Jacques confesses to the cure on the spot, thus sealing his lips, and then begins a process of implicating the cure in the murder. Refusing to defend himself, baffling his interrogators by his silence, Seraphim goes to prison, full of doubt about his obligations and his own responsibility in the affair, beaten and bordering on despair. He dies in prison before the investigation is closed and his death moves Tenembart's invalided wife to reveal the truth. Only by his death -- an obvious martyrdom, was Seraphim able to touch those who rejected his every effort. The book is realistic, psychologically concerned, and moving but Seraphim does not achieve the stature of Bernanos' young priest for he seems finally to lack the humanity that made Bernanos' hero unforgettable.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1960
Publisher: Doubleday