First Advisor

Rita Rose Vistica

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in French






Georges Bernanos (1888-1948) -- Textual Criticism, Georges Bernanos (1888-1948) -- Knowledge -- Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ -- Influence, Church history -- Middle Ages (600-1500)



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, iv, 234 p.)


In the fictional world of the twentieth century author, Georges Bernanos, a medieval spirituality is reflected through Christocentric imagery. This study highlights the Christocentric focus of medieval spirituality found in three bernanosian characters: Donissan in Sous le Soleil de Satan, Chantal in La Joie, and le cure d'Ambricourt in Journal d'un cure de campagne. Two medieval images, the Mirror and the Way, provided a backdrop for considering common thematic characteristics. This study is divided into two parts. Part One comprises two chapters which present background for textual analysis in Bernanos' three novels. Chapter one explores formative elements in medieval spirituality. These include: descriptions of the medieval mindset, clerical and ecclesial influences, devotional trends related to themes of Christocentric imitation, edification images, specifically, the Mirror and the Way, and chivalry. Chapter two presents formative elements in Bernanos' spirituality. Familial, clerical and ecclesial influences of his childhood contributed to his Christocentric spirituality. Biographical descriptions of Bernanos' adolescent and adult years reveal similarities of his lived experience to medieval themes of pilgrimage, chivalry and imitation. In Part Two, Donissan, Chantal and le cure are considered in the context of medieval trends to imitate Christ. Images of the Way and the Mirror emerge in the four chapters of this section. In chapter three, a textual analysis is presented which juxtaposes virtuous qualities of each main character to the virtues of the medieval devotion to the Infancy. In chapters four and five, the characters are described in relation to another major devotional trend of medieval times: the Passion. Chapter four considers the bernanosian saints as imitators of Jesus' agony while chapter five addresses their imitation of his Way of the cross. In both chapters, imagery related to medieval Christ-like imitation is identified. Chapter six highlights themes of death and resurrection, the culminating steps of the medieval journey of imitation. Descriptions of Bernanos' saintly instruments of grace emphasize their adherence to the medieval pursuit towards wholeness. Dawn imagery and the theme of communion of saints are treated in this discussion of transformation. Endnotes accompany each of the six chapters.


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