the cultural mission of France, a conceptnthe meaning of which they nonlonger understood. (Considering Drumont’snanti-Semitism of secondary importance,nBernanos planned a compendiumnof- his writings to benassembled by Bruckberger and prefacednby himself The manuscript stillnexists, but given the events of thatntime — the Munich Agreement hadnjust been signed—Bruckberger foresawnthe consequences of publicationnand the book was never printed.)nDrumont had been traumahzed bynwhat happened in Paris after the Commune,nwhen fierce and bloody vengeancenwas taken; Bernanos suffered ansimilar traumatization when, early innthe Spanish Civil War, he witnessed innMajorca the brutal treatment of notnonly Republican fighters but of civilians.nIn Les Grands Cimetieres sous lanlune he wrote: “I have been taught tonfear crime in the service of evil, but Inhave seen it in the service of the onlynorder I both recognize and love.” ThatnFranco called his insurrechon a “crusade”namounted for Bernanos to blasphemy.nBack from Spain, he was bombardednwith demands for hisnimpressions, but as usual he took hisntime. In the solitude of his Toulonndomicile, he wrote Les GrandsnCimetieres sous la lune. Unlike Maritainnand Mauriac who, Bruckbergernsays, were concerned only with thensuperficial appearance of the upheaval,nBernanos probed its depths. His supportnof the Republican side and hisntotal condemnation of France’s movementnon the strength of what he hadnseen in Majorca, caused Simone Weil,nan ardent socialist, to write him a longnletter pointing out the horrors committednby the Republicans. But the traumanwent too deep for the letter to make annimpression.nFrom distant Brazil, Bernanos saw innthe much-celebrated Munich Agreementnthe confirmation of his worstnpresentiments of the threat to France.nThe events of May and June 1940nproved him only too right. In hisnLettres aux Anglais (Rio de Janeiron1942, Paris 1946) he says, “I am fednup, dear Mr. Roosevelt, with hearingn— even from M. Maritain — about democraciesnas opposed to dictatorships.nDemocracy constitutes no defensenwhatsoever against dictatorships. Everyndemocracy can, from one moment tonthe next, undei’go a dictatorial crisis,nwhatever its national character.”nIf the larger parts of Bernanos’ writingnare in their nature critical-polemical,na devastating judgment of what isncommonly called realishc politics {i.e.,nthe cynical betrayal of a given word ornthe sacrifice of values to a nation’snimmediate needs), this is owing not sonmuch to an inner revulsion as to “thenindignation, the fury, the pity felt by annold salt at the presumptuous ineptitudenof a youngster who proclaims his intentionnto sail around the world alone andnbegins his preparations by throwing hisncompass into the sea and breaking hisnrudder.”nBetween Bernanos and the modernnworid no compromise was possible.nEver since the completion of his firstnbook, he had his position fixed, hisnterritory staked, his limits drawn. Thenfate of France, so intricately connectednwith Christianity, never ceased to preoccupynhim. He saw the beginning ofnall evil in the Renaissance, in the usurpingnof power by the evolving bourgeoisie;nthe break caused by the Renaissancenhe considered worse than the one producednlater by the French Revolution.nThe Renaissance had sterilized andndeprived of its very substance the greatestnattempt to revitalize the spirit of thenGospels — the spiritual upheaval begunnby St. Francis of Assisi. After the Poverello’sndeath, “the gilded and purplednscum breathed a sigh of relief” andneverything returned to normal.nIn an interview given by Bernanos tonLes Nouvelles Litteraires in 1926, henput his views in a nutshell. They were anprofound shock to Bruckberger, sincenthey contradicted everything thenyoung monk had been taught. FornBernanos, Catholicism is not just a setnof rules imposed from outside; it is thenrule of life, it is life itself A profoundnanalysis of the human passions presupposesnthe concept of sin; without this,n”moral man” remains a monster in thenliterary sense of the term, and a “decentnman” is a well-functioning mechanism,na Cartesian animal. And this,nundeniably, is what the Renaissancenled to, by trying to make of the Devil ansimple spectator who only intervenesneither to applaud or to boo: the nextnstep is his total elimination. But withnthe Devil removed, the moralist’s powernis short-lived, for he is soon replacednnnby the hygienist. No Devil, no moral,nonly hygiene.nLike Peguy, Bernanos was not afraidnto speak of Christianity, of the crusadenin its original meaning of pilgrimage.nAnd for this, at least, the modern woridnmakes long voyages by land or seanunnecessary: the partes infidelium, likenthe Kingdom of God, are within us, innour minds and in our hearts, and it isnthere that we must fight our battles,nlaunch our crusades. Peguy’s definitionnof what one might call “the Christianncondition,” as against Malraux’ conditionnhumaine, perfectly expresses Bernanos’nown conviction: “Those safelynassured of their daily bread, the beneficiariesnof social security, the civil servants,nthe monks, they all cannot leadntruly Christian lives. These can be lednonly by those whose daily bread is notnassured, by gamblers, by adventurers,nby the poor, the destitute, by industrialistsnand businessmen, by married mennand fathers, those great adventurers ofnour modern world.”nHaving so far spoken mostly aboutnBernanos the polemicist and controversialncritic, I turn now to his fictionalnwork, created entirely between 1926nand 1937 with the exception of MonsieurnOuine, published in 1946. In thencase of Bernanos it is difficult to draw anclear dividing line between the novelistnand the theorist, between his fictionnand the rest of his oeuvre, because bothnare concerned (one could almost saynobsessively) with the two most significantncomponents in their author’sncharacter, his devotion to his faith andnhis love for France.nAs a young man, Bernanos hadnhesitated between three vocations: thenpriesthood, medicine, and law. Whethernas priest, doctor, or lawyer, he knewnthat he would devote himself to othersnto the point of self-abnegation. Of thenmany great writers of his’ age, he isnprobably the only one, Bruckbergernsays, who lived up to his vocation totaUnly and unequivocally. To Bernanos, itnwas evident that the vocation of a novelistnis as exacting as that of a Trappistnmonk. Opening his schoolboy’s copybooknevery morning and faced by itsnblank pages, he felt at a loss. Would henbe able to probe deeply enough into hisninner world to discover the personsnwaiting there to be brought to life?nWhat were they going to do, what wasngoing to happen to them? He lookednSEPTEMBER 1991/37n