UBC Theses and Dissertations
Peche et la soif d'amour dan l'oeuvre de Francois Mauriac. Navey, Julianne
In the works of Francois Mauriac sin is most often a love which goes astray. Mauriac's heroes are seeking an infinite love and err in attempting to satisfy their intense longing in the finite world. The hero of Le Noeud de vipères grasps for money, believing this to be what he cherishes most in life. As the author indicates in the introduction to the novel, money is not what Louis truly desires; he longs for love, ultimately for Love itself. If his heroes don't seek the Infinite in material possessions, then they try to satisfy their intense longing for the Absolute in human relationships. Daniel Trasis, Raymond Courrèges, and Fanny Barrett are enmeshed in a debauched existence. Hervé de Blénauge, enslaved by his sexual instinct, orients all his actions towards the pursuit of his "pleasure". Reflecting upon physical love, Fabien Dézaymeries remarks that it has the appearance of infinity, and that it is precisely this semblance of the infinite which constitutes the danger for man. As Maria Cross explains, man finds pleasure in sexual relationships, and in choosing this momentary pleasure, he abandons his quest for happiness. Happiness can be attained only when the soul is united to God, and the longing of the soul to lose itself in the Absolute torments man as much as the yearning of the body to be united with another. Consequently Mauriac's heroes never find the happiness they desire because they seek the Infinite in relationships which are finite. Mauriac insists that man does not know himself, that is to say he does not understand his true nature, and therefore fails to perceive what he really desires. The words of Saint Teresa of Avila which serve as the epigraph to Le Noeud de vipères stress man's blindness in regards to his true nature: "...Dieu, considérez que nous ne nous entendons pas nous-mêmes et que nous ne savons pas ce que nous voulons, et que nous nous éloignons infiniment de ce que nous désirons. " Mauriac’s heroes are in search of the Absolute and they frantically strive to fulfill their intense longing in the finite world. Man needs to understand the true object of his desires, for only then will he cease his search for the Infinite in the finite world. The heart of man is an infinite abyss which only infinity can fill. His thirst for love is beyond all measure because it is precisely the desire for the Infinite. Man is aware of himself "as a separate entity", isolated from others, and he longs to overcome this separation by seeking love and human affection. In Le Désert de l'amour Mauriac describes the intense solitude of man, the anguish he feels at being unable to overcome his isolation from others. Dr. Courrèges desperately longs to overcome the barrier which exists between the other members of his family and himself. In the same novel Maria Cross suffers deeply from the lack of family and friends. However her loneliness is a moral solitude rather than just a physical separation from others, and she tries to overcome this intense solitude in amorous liaisons. Her efforts are futile for she never finds in these relationships what she is desperately seeking: a love which will dispel her loneliness, which will fill her interior desert. In the preface to Trois Recits, Mauriac refers to the instinct of man to unite with a single being. This desxre is, however, more than the longing for physical union with the Absolute. Maria Cross comes to realize the true object of her desires: a being which she can reach, possess, but not in the mere physical sense, a being by whom she will be possessed. In discussing the metaphysics of love in Mauriac's works, Michael Maloney indicates that in human love "by an obscure compulsion, the finite searches for the Infinite" for love is "however unknowing, a hunger for the divine, even when its object is another human." Underlining Mauriac's theory of love is "the oneness of love's essence." The author indicates that there is only one love: all loves, fraternal, maternal, etc., are only varieties of the Unique Love. Moreover, all Mauriac’s characters show that man is created for the One Love. Maria Cross concludes that there is only one love which we seek, and that our efforts to satisfy this infinite passion in human relationships inevitably fail since they do not fulfill the intense longing which is, essentially, the search for the Absolute. Thérèse Desqueyroux realizes that the love which she desires is beyond the physical relationship and that man is only a "pretext", a means by which she gropes for the Infinite. Created for the One Love, man hears the call of the Infinite. God, Who is Infinite Love, draws man to Himself, stirs in his heart the desire for the Infinite, the longing to be united with the Absolute. Every desire for love is a longing for the Infinite, for "...love is the search of human nature for self-realization, a consummation which can only be perfectly achieved when the soul is united to God." Man is created for one love, Infinite Love, and he cannot find happiness and fulfill his destiny without this Love. What is important for Mauriac is that man comes to know himself. In his essay Le Roman Mauriac indicates that the purpose of literature is the knowledge of man. Through his writings Mauriac wants to increase man's understanding of himself, reminding him especially of his spiritual dimensions. The author wants man to perceive in his unending search for love the desire for the Infinite. Mauriac emphasizes that man has the responsibility of creating his destiny, that is to say of determining what will be the end of his life: union with Love or separation from God throughout eternity. Man is created for love, for eternal union with Love, and he will only fulfill himself and satisfy his longing for the Infinite by directing his whole life toward this supreme end. Man is a rational being, capable of discerning good from evil, and his free will enables him to choose between these two principles. Because he is free to choose, he is responsible for his actions, and the outcome of his life is determined by the choices which he makes. Mauriac describes the presence of evil in the world and in man himself. In stressing concupiscence of the flesh, the author demonstrates how Evil plays upon man's weakened nature and reduces his infinite capacity and intense desire for love to lust. Despite this somber portrait, man has not been abandoned in a world of misery without any hope of surmounting his misfortune for, as Mauriac constantly indicates, Grace is available to all. However, man must consent to the divine intervention. The turning to God and the acceptance of divine Grace are the only means by which man will overcome the evil which oppresses him. Throughout his works Mauriac shows that man, in his search for love, is seeking God. By searching for an infinite love in the finite world his characters wander from the true object of their desires. They long for the Infinite and only by realizing what they truly seek and turning to God Who is Love will they satisfy their longing and fulfill their destiny.
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