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Georges Bernanos (1888 – 1948)


French writer.
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Georges Bernanos
[Chantal to Fiodor:] "It seems to me that evil is much less complicated than you would like to believe. Here or anywhere else there is only one sin."
"What sin?"
"To tempt God," she said. "And what's the use? I think you are really very stupid. God looks where He pleases. If He has not yet looked at you, what is the use of tempting Him?"
Bernanos quotes
Everybody in Palma knew that my son was a lieutenant in the Phalange, and I was often seen at mass. For months I had been friendly with insurgent leaders who were feared by all the suspects. And yet people I hardly knew spoke freely to me, when the slightest indiscretion on my part would have cost their liberty, or their lives. I'll tell you why it was. It was because it is still known in the world that a Frenchman doesn't let himself become a policeman's pawn - that's why. Because a Frenchman is a free man.
Bernanos
I have just discovered something I have always known: we can no more escape from one another than we can escape from God.




Bernanos Georges quotes
I have done no passably decent job in this world which did not at first seem to me useless - absurdly useless, useless to the point of nausea. My secret demon is called :What's the use?
Bernanos Georges
[A] good Christian does not care for miracles very much, because a miracle is God looking after His own affairs, and we prefer looking after them for Him.
Georges Bernanos quotes
I know that the Crusaders of Majorca put to death, in a single night, all the prisoners who were huddled in the Catalonian trenches. They took the whole herd down to the shore and shot them, one beast at a time - they were quite leisurely about it. The Lord High Archbishop of Palma arranged to be represented at the ceremony, by a certain number of his priests. You can picture the scene can't you? 'Come on, father, isn't that one ready?' - 'Just a moment captain, I'm handing him over to you at once.' When the job was finished, the Crusaders piled their cattle in two heaps - those who'd been given absolution and those who hadn't- then sprinkled petrol over them. It is quite likely that this purification by fire may then have taken on, by reason of the presence of priests officiating a liturgical significance. Unfortunately I only saw these blackened, shiny creatures two days after that, contorted by the flames, some of them counterfeiting obscene poses in death, which must have been very distressing for the ladies of Palma and for their eminent confessors. A reeking tar oozed out of them...
Georges Bernanos
Chantal's only ruse ... was her shattering simplicity. While a weak man or an imposter is always more complicated than the problem he is trying to solve, and thinking to encompass his adversary, merely keeps prowling interminably around himself, the heroic nature will throw itself into the heart of the danger to turn it to its own use, just as captured artillery is turned about and aimed at the backs of the fleeing enemy.
Bernanos Georges quotes
[T]he cradle is shallower than the grave.
Bernanos
God knows that we should not despise anything. We must do our best.
Bernanos Georges
Sadness came into the world with Satan — that world our Saviour never prayed for, the world you say I do not know. Oh, it is not so difficult to recognize: it is the world that prefers cold to warmth! What can God find to say to those who, of their own free will, of their own weight incline towards sadness and turn instinctively towards the night?
Georges Bernanos
To you a pious young girl who goes to mass and communion, seems pretty silly and childish; you take us for innocents... Well, let me tell you, sometimes we know more about evil than people who have only learned to offend God.




Georges Bernanos quotes
They are always talking about the fire of hell, but no one has ever seen it, my friends. For hell is cold. It used to be that the nights weren't long enough to wear out your malice, and you got up each morning with your breasts still full of poison. But now the devil himself has withdrawn from you. Ah, how alone we are in evil, my brothers! The poor human race dreams from century to century of breaking that solitude — but it's no use! The devil, who can do so many things, will never succeed in founding a Church, a Church that will put in common both the merits of hell and the sin of all. From now until the end of the world, the sinner will have to sin alone, always alone — for just as we die alone, so also do we sin alone. The devil, you see, is the friend who never stays with us to the end.
Georges Bernanos
Once or twice, when she [Chantal] had adroitly avoided an opportunity of pleasing or winning admiration (for her shrewd wit and vivacity made her popular), she was astonished at his [Abbé Chevance's] disapproval. [She asked him why.] Blushing he had replied, "I will tell you, my daughter. I used to try very hard to be admired, to be liked. That is the world!" Then, with that profound finesse which no one had ever had the wit to recognize in the former priest of Costerel-sur-Meuse, he at once added, "I had more to fear from the world than you have."
Bernanos quotes
The population of Majorca has always been noted for its absolute indifference to politics. In the days of the Carlistes and the Cristinos, George Sand tells us how they welcomed with equal unconcern the refugees of either side. According to the head of the Phalange, you could not have found a hundred Communists in the whole island. Where could the Party have got them from? It is a country of small market-gardening, of olives, oranges and almonds, without industry, without factories. I declare on oath that during the months preceding the civil war there was no attempt of any kind made against persons or belongings. 'There was killing in Spain,' you say. 'A hundred and thirty-five political assassinations between March and July 1936.' But in Majorca there were no crimes to avenge, so it could only have been a preventative action, the systematic extermination of suspects.
Bernanos Georges
Optimism has always seemed to me the cunning alibi of egoists, anxious to cover up their state of chronic self-satisfaction. They are optimists in order to avoid pitying other men and their misfortune. ~~ Yet pity is a vexed question.
Bernanos Georges quotes
She [Chantal] did not understand him [Fiodor]. She never could and never would understand him, being as invulnerable in her truthfulness as he in his falseness. And yet, she hated him unconsciously with a jealous hatred — for what other name, alas, could be given to that revolt of her pure conscience, so well armed and, at the same time, so defenceless? She hated him instinctively as though he already possessed the incomparable secret with which to menace her, to menace God Himself.
Georges Bernanos
Rather than the obsession with impurity, you'd do better to fear the nostalgia for purity.
Georges Bernanos quotes
I saw a woman of thirty-five, living peacefully in the bosom of her family after an interrupted novitiate, show sudden signs of incomprehensible nervous terror, speak of possible 'reprisals', and refuse to go out alone. A very dear friend, took pity on her, offered her shelter. 'Come, child, what have you to fear? You're one of God's little lambs...' 'Harmless? That's all you know! Everybody thinks as you do, and nobody's frightened of me. Well - you can find out for yourself. I had eight men shot, madame...'
Georges Bernanos
A large number of suspects, both men and women, escaped martial law for lack of any shred of evidence against them on which a court-martial could convict. So they began setting them free in groups, according to their birth-place. But half-way, the car-load would be emptied into a ditch.
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