2008/05/21

Mauriac's Knowing

François Mauriac (October 11, 1885 - September 1, 1970) was a French author, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is acknowledged to be one of the greatest Roman Catholic writers of the 20th century.

So saith Wikipedia.

And,
'Tell me what you read, and I'll tell you who you are,' is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.
So saith Mauriac.

It got me thinking. What do I reread?

It's not that long a list, really.

Elizabeth Goudge is at the top. She wrote a trilogy of books about the (fictional, technically, but very alive to me) Eliot family, and one stand-alone novel called The Scent of Water. Anyone who would read those four books would know a lot about me.

Both she and Madeleine L'Engle wrote about the effects of the Great Wars of the twentieth century on the ordinary, regular folk, who live with their families, and speak to their neighbors, and try to figure out what anything means. I love the work of these two women authors, and I reread them frequently. L'Engle's adult novel, A Severed Wasp, is my favorite. I agree with Melissa Howard. This book is "a novel about humans, through the lens of art, psychology, spirituality; and as lived by one of L'Engle's most fascinating characters." But I don't agree with Howard's recommendation of it being best read by readers in the midlife age group. I read it as a teenager, and it changed who I became.

But I reread Pat Conroy's Beach Music every few years. And the works of C. S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers, in both their fiction and non-fiction writing. I think all of these authors knew the beauty of language, and their story-telling art is profoundly effective because of its beauty. This goes, too, for Graham Greene's Wind in the Willows, and the children's books of E. Nesbit and L.M. Montgomery. So ... I guess what I reread is tales of human courage, and the effects of human love in the world, and the beautiful language that sings to me over and over that "there's some good in the world, and it's worth fighting for" - even if I can't make myself reread Tolkein.

1 comment:

aazmom said...

Oh! Goudge! I read (and reread) her because she writes of the fineness in humanity - what we are capable of in our best moments, how we can grow and learn to love even better. I think besides the books you mentioned she also wrote a bunch more like (I will get these slightly wrong unless I get up and go look at them which I am in too much of a hurry to do) "The Clockmaker" and "Green Dolphin Street" and "Child of the Sea." And poetry and I even have an anthology she edited of writings about peace.

I concur with your blog's last sentence, and would add something about growth - if I could wield words as well as you :-)