by Julien Green
"The girl did not stir; for the last few seconds she had divined the great invisible presence which had invaded the house, and her hands grew cold. Then there rose up a long, bitter cry which terrified them because it was not the voice of anyone they knew, but merely the howl of despair which rises every moment in some part of the world and greets the presence of Death." (p 124)
With Minuit (Midnight) and Le Visionnaire (The Dreamer) two years earlier Green's novels delved into a dreamlike world of battle between good and evil, passion and reason. While these novels picture French provincial life in critical light, some critics see them as more complex than the typical anti-bourgeois novel. The psychology of evil and a sort of metaphysical boredom becomes the source of revolt, not social facts. In Midnight one finds a poetic evocation of the mystery of secrets in a dream. The author, in the preface, describes it as an answer to The Dreamer.
Julien Green was a French-American novelist and playwright, whose works are connected to the tradition of (Roman Catholic) psychological realism and also show the influence of Edgar Allan Poe and the American regional style known as Southern Gothic. Green's central subjects were self-destruction, religion, and sexuality. The stories were usually set in French provincial towns and depicted the lives of neurotic characters, who are tormented by their sensual greed, sins, and fears. Green preferred French to English as the language in which he published his works. In 1939 Green converted to Roman Catholicism for the second time. The first time was 1915 after which he became a Buddhist. Green's early religious tensions are seen in the title of his first published work, Pamphlet contre les catholiques de France (1924). Green is generally seen as writing in the Gothic romance tradition and in this novel you can see signposts that point toward his later, and better, work. From French writers Green was closest to Georges Bernanos (Diary of a Country Priest) and François Mauriac, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and author of Therese Desqueyroux and The Desert of Love among others.
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