THE PENCIL OF GOD by Philippe & Pierre Thoby-Marcalin


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A Haitian novel of a man and village mores, where the forces of the Church and Satan race at parallel poles for the destruction of a soul which can accept neither. Diogene Cyprien, trader in export produce, forced by the war to undertake a smaller rice husking ""business"", was easygoing, unassuming, cursed with (or blessed with) a strong inclination to happy dalliance with women. Although after the death of his mother, he became more faithful to his wife, when he saw the beautiful Lourdes, young daughter of the vigorous and sensual Commere Zeline, he made plans for an early conquest. Through an ingenious ruse, he achieves his object and Lourdes is pregnant. Some graveyard voodoo, instigated by Commere Zeline upon his wife, and a mysterious cure involve Diogene in promises to attend the heathen rights in which Lourdes' son is to be ""baptized"". From then on the characters line up for the kill- his vituperative mother-in-law, armored by the Church and righteous supporter of the wavering priest; Commere Zeline, distrustful, eager to accept the rumors which rush about the village; TI- Joseph, a young man whom Diogene had unjustly accused of being the father of Lourdes' baby; and always the villagers- never seen, but swarming at times of death to curse with the attackers the man they accuse of bargaining with the devil. At last rumors, death and insanity within his bewildered family destroy Diogene, and he dies alone and insane. Sharp characterizations, and a delicate irony in a sophisticated idyll of Fate and frailties.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1950
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin