Focusing on Paul Claudel, an Invisible Giant
Day Dedicated to a French Genius of the 20th Century
ROME, FEB. 22, 2005 (Zenit) - The 6th Day of Reflection on the topic "Catholicism and Literature in the 20th Century," promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, will open in Rome this Wednesday.
This year's edition will focus on the literary figure of Paul Claudel, on the 50th anniversary of the death of this important French writer. In this connection, we interviewed Andrea Monda, an organizer of the event.
Q: Why was Claudel chosen for this year's edition?
Monda: The relationship with God and with the Christian faith are undoubtedly the profound root of some of the outstanding literary figures of the 20th century, and this is even more true of Claudel and his Catholicism, for whom, beginning with the remarkable episode of his conversion -- which occurred at Christmas in 1886 in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris -- it would be a constant source of inspiration.
It is interesting to note how Claudel came to his rocklike faith through an unusual journey.
In 1886, in fact, he discovered the "Illuminations" of a great, and controversial, poet, Arthur Rimbaud, and this discovery would prove decisive in Claudel's poetic formation, who at last was able to come out of the "prison" of 19th- century determinism and turn to the supernatural.
In this sense, Claudel is a formidable symbol between those two dramatic centuries and, therefore, it seemed opportune not to allow him to fall into oblivion on the 50th anniversary of his death.
While in previous editions there was reflection in particular on the literary traditions of some geographic areas, such as France, Eastern Europe, or the Spanish-speaking countries, in the present edition reflection will be concentrated on an individual figure, whose enormous stature is already revealed in the title [of the event].
Q: What does the title, the "Invisible Giant," mean?
Monda: Two things. On one hand, Claudel is a giant, a monument of 20th-century literature, but more than that, I would say of 20th-century culture and history. He was, in fact, a multifarious, polyhedral genius: writer, poet, dramatist, art critic and theoretician, and diplomat.
As French poet and professor Valerio Magrelli wrote in Il Corriere della Sera on February 16, Claudel is a sort of "inextricable knot." The man of the theater and diplomat, the conservative and follower of Rimbaud, the intolerant Catholic and lover of Oriental cultures, the philosopher and friend-enemy of [André] Gide. It is impossible to try to harmonize such different aspects.
Moreover, by accentuating all these contradictions, he became the object of the Surrealists' attacks, who said: "It is not possible to be a poet and, at the same time, ambassador of France." Yet, Claudel was both.
I find this aspect very interesting: The man, every man, is a bundle of contradictions which cannot be simplified, radicalized, absolutized. To say it religiously: Every man is a mystery. A Christian knows this well because the Christian is an even greater mystery, and always represents an enigma for the world which often does not understand him, and does not accept him.
I remember what theologian Harvey Cox wrote 40 years ago in his essay "The Christian as Rebel": "Christians cannot be explained with the world's terms because they live for their class or race, for their national or sexual interests. They pose an enigma to the world, something inexplicable about which people must finally ask."
Q: Why is this giant invisible?
Today, Claudel has become invisible. He is a transparent monument. A mountain which has been forgotten.
For many years Claudel and his vast work have lived in a state of forgetfulness and marginalization. If one goes to a bookstore today to get a book of Claudel, any book, the answer is always the same: "Claudel? Who is he?"
It is virtually impossible to find a book of his in circulation. Perhaps the "monolithic" character of the faith experienced and practiced by Claudel has caused this elimination, I wouldn't know.
Claudel certainly represents in an effective way a whole great period of 20th-century French culture which not only reached the highest levels but which today seems somewhat antiquated, archaeological.
I am thinking of names such as Mauriac, Bernanos, Peguy, Bloy, but also philosophers like Marcel, Maritain, Mounier, Guitton and the theology of the great Frenchmen like Congar, de Lubac, Danielou.
It was an exceptional period whose legacy remains, but is as though buried by the ashes of indifference, a phenomenon that is perhaps more insidious than militant atheism.
I think of France today, which bans the veil and the crucifix and tries to erase every external trace of religiosity in the name of a misunderstood idea of secularity and I wonder: What has become of the lesson of those great French spirits of the first half of the 20th century?
https://www.catholic.org/featured/insert_headline.php CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Paul Claudel, French, Culture, Literature, Catholicism
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- 'Living Lent': Sunday of the Fifth Week of Lent - Day 33
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 HD Video
- Saint Patrick Calls All Christians to be Missionaries to this Age
- St. Patrick: Saint of the Day for Saturday, March 17, 2018
- 'Living Lent': Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent - Day 34
- Daily Readings for Saturday, March 17, 2018
- Daily Reading for Monday, March 19th, 2018 HD Video
- St. John
- holy spirit
- morning prayer
- Saint Elizabeth
- St. Augustine
- Saint Anne
- st agnes
- saint monica
- saint catherine
- Saint Lucy
- saint clare
- saint rose
- st rose of lima
- immaculate conception
- st augustine
- st monica
- saint of the day
- St. Elizabeth
- john bosco
- Daily Reading for Sunday, March 18th, 2018 HD
- The Earth is Dying: Human impact continues to shape the future of the planet HD
- Thousands of students walk out of schools to protest gun violence HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, March 17th, 2018 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education