20 February 1888|
|Died||5 July 1948
Georges Bernanos (French: [bɛʁnanɔs]; 20 February 1888 – 5 July 1948) was a French author, and a soldier in World War I. Of Roman Catholic and monarchist leanings, he was critical of bourgeois thought and was opposed to what he identified as defeatism leading to France's eventual occupation by Germany in 1940.
Bernanos was born in Paris, into a family of craftsmen, and spent much of his childhood in the Pas de Calais region, which became a frequent setting for his novels. He served in the First World War as a soldier, where he witnessed the battles of the Somme and Verdun. He was wounded several times. After the war, he worked in insurance before writing Sous le soleil de Satan. He won the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for Journal d'un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest).
Despite his anti-democratic leanings and his allegiance to the Action Française (he was a member of their youth organization, the Camelots du Roi), from which he finally departed in 1932, he was able to see the danger in Fascism and National Socialism (which he described as "disgusting monstrousness") before World War II broke out in Europe. He initially supported Francisco Franco and the Fascist Falange at the outset of the Spanish Civil War. But Bernanos spent part of the conflict in Majorca, observed 'a terrorized population' and became disillusioned with the Francoist cause, which he criticized in the book Diary of My Times; "My illusions on the enterprise of General Franco did not last long - two or three weeks - but while they lasted I conscientiously endeavoured to get over the disgust which some of the men and means inspired in me." Most of his important fictional works were written between 1926 and 1937.
He emigrated to South America in 1938, and stayed there until 1945, for most of the time in Barbacena, Brazil, where he tried his hand at managing a farm. His three sons returned to France to fight when World War II broke out, while he fulminated at his country's 'spiritual exhaustion' which he saw as the root of its collapse in 1940. From exile he mocked the 'ridiculous' Vichy regime and became a strong supporter of the nationalist Free French Forces led by the conservative Charles de Gaulle.
After the liberation, de Gaulle invited him to return to France, offering him a post in the government. Bernanos did return, but disappointed he did not participate actively in French political life as no signs of spiritual renewal were to be perceived.
Works in English translation
- The Star of Satan. London: The Bodley Head, 1927 [New York: Macmillan, 1940; H. Fertig, 1975].
- Under the Sun of Satan. New York: Pantheon, 1949 [University of Nebraska Press, 2001].
- The Crime. London: Hale, 1936 [New York: E.P. Dutton, 1936].
- The Diary of a Country Priest. London: The Bodley Head, 1937 [New York: Macmillan, 1948, 1962; Carroll & Graf, 1983, 2002].
- A Diary of my Times. New York: Macmillan, 1938 [London: The Bodley Head, 1945].
- Plea for Liberty. New York: Pantheon, 1944 [London: Dobson, 1946].
- The Open Mind. London: The Bodley Head, 1945.
- Monsieur Ouine. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
- Sanctity will out. London and New York: Sheed & Ward, 1947.
- Joy. New York: Pantheon Books, 1946 [London: The Bodley Head, 1948; Toronto: Thomas Nelson, 1948].
- Tradition of Freedom. London: Dobson, 1950 [New York: Roy, 1951].
- The Fearless Heart. Toronto: Thomas Nelson, 1952 [London: The Bodley Head, 1961].
- Night is Darkest. London: The Bodley Head, 1953.
- Mouchette. London: The Bodley Head, 1966 [New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966; New York Review Books, 2006].
- The Last Essays of Georges Bernanos. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1955 [Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1968].
- The Impostor. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
- "Bernanos", Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
- Allen, W. Gore (1948). "George Bernanos: A Mystic in the World," The Irish Monthly, Vol. 76, No. 903, pp. 414-416.
- Tobin, Michael R. (2007). Georges Bernanos: The Theological Source of his Art. McGill-Queen's University Press.
- Hellman, John (1990). "Bernanos, Drumont, and the Rise of French Fascism," The Review of Politics, Vol. 52, No. 3, pp. 441-459.
- Georges Bernanos. A Diary of My Times, London: Boriswood, 1938, p. 85.
- Blumenthal, Gerda (1965). The Poetic Imagination of Georges Bernanos: An Essay in Interpretation. The Johns Hopkins Press.
- Braybrooke, Neville (1954). "Georges Bernanos," The Irish Monthly, Vol. 83, No. 969, pp. 174–179.
- Bush, William (1969). Georges Bernanos. Twayne Publishers.
- Field, Frank (1975). Three French Writers: Studies in the Rise of Communism and Fascism.
- Hebblethwaite, Peter (1965). Bernanos, an Introduction. London: Bowes and Bowes.
- Molnar, Thomas (1960). Bernanos: His Political Thought and Prophecy. New York: Sheed and Ward.
- Molnar, Thomas (1995). "The Case of Georges Bernanos," Modern Age 38 (1), pp. 61–68.
- Noth, Ernst Erich (1949). "The Prophetism of Georges Bernanos," Yale French Studies, No. 4, Literature and Ideas, pp. 105–119.
- O'Malley, Frank (1944). "The Evangelism of Georges Bernanos," The Review of Politics, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 403–421.
- Reck, Rima Drell (1965). "George Bernanos: A Novelist and His Art," The French Review, Vol. 38, No. 5, pp. 619–629.
- Speaight, Robert (1973). Georges Bernanos: A Study of the Man and the Writer. London: Collins & Harvill Press [New York: Liveright, 1974].
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Georges Bernanos|
- Works by or about Georges Bernanos in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- English language biography (version in Archive.org)
- The Pilgrimage of George Bernanos
- Georges Bernanos (1888-1948)
- Works by Georges Bernanos (public domain in Canada)