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Enselessly her mother s suffering from a life crippling
sickness Mouchette is bound to take care of her infant brother whom she bears no affection toward As a Mouchette is bound to take care of her infant brother whom she bears no affection toward As a ears old she s stuck and feels like she s already dead inside She takes other people s perceptions of her to be true even though deep down she detests her inculcated condition but she has no means of escaping from it She projects her feelings on a man who raped her despite being fully aware of his false affection In a world where she s been misunderstood and abused all her life she longs for a glimpse of tenderness and understanding Moreover she Hummer yearns for someone who would see her as a human being instead of a wild savage who belongs on the periphery of a society I understand Mouchette s affection for her rapist and it s morbidly painful to even fathom that she wants no revenge or no harm to come to him One time she even said to him before resort to elegiac sobbing I would rather kill myself than let anyone harmou This demonstrates the intense loneliness she feels along with the shocking fact that she s aware of the extent of his crime but willing to ignore it for his sakeHer contemplation on suicide is probably one of the most
haunting parts it reverberates her anguish and intense disgust through sensory details The thought of death parts it reverberates her anguish and intense disgust through sensory details The thought of death it reverberates her anguish and intense disgust through sensory details The thought of death her involuntary and it beckons her It s a tragic vision and a foreshadowing of Mouchette s pitiful ending superimposed by existential grief Mouchette s story illuminates class struggle in rural France It s the embodiment of mental affliction borne out of social marginalization and sualid poverty I recommend treating the introduction as an afterword Save it till after ou ve read the novella There s so little story to be told in this tiny book and the introduction gives it all away Shame on the publishers This happens so often in classics that I ve learned not to go near intros Spoiler City In the 1980 s when I was an undergraduate the Nouvelle histoire de Mouchette was a popular choice for inclusion on first ear French Lit courses The novel is short and clear both of which are important ualities for English speakers beginning to read French Moreover as it addressed the issues of alcoholism and rape it had the virtue of discusssing topics that are still considered inappropriate for secondary school courses Finally the outstanding Robert Bresson movie version regularly appeared in the repertory cinema house which meant that the undergraduates who studied the book would soon be able to compare their interpretation with that of a a great directorThis much said the sad story of the protagonist is uite painful to read I think today that Mouchette no longer has a pedagogical mission It never had any outstanding literary ualities I advise anyone curious about Bernanos to read the Journal d un cur de campagne which is one of the very finest books of French literature Another good choice would be to attend a performance of the Poulenc s great opera Dialogues of the Carmelites for which Bernanos wrote the scenariol I watched this film once a day for a few days I don t do this with many films La Strada Pierrot le Fou I watched upon waking for about a week it was my version of a cup of coffee and the paper Umberto D a nightly salve But Mouchette my little savage this is a brutal and beautiful tale Raised by generational alcoholics scorned and abused shamed daily Mouchette abhors and desires affection and tenderness in love with the man who raped her the fierce and violent worl Thirteen reasons why this is a FAR FAR superior book to a recently published widely read and much profitable book about a teen girl s suicide1 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper2 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper3 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper4 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper5 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper6 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper7 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper8 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper9 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper10 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper11 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper12 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper13 It wan t written on the author s used toilet pape. E against everyone” Hers is a tale of “tragic solitude” in which despair and salvation appear to be inextricably intertwined Bernanos uncompromising genius was a powerful inspiration to Flannery O’Connor and Mouchette was the source of a celebrated movie by director Robert Bresson. ,
S to the existential strangeness of Georges Bernanos According to the back cover of the NYRB edition seen here MOUCHETTE stands with Bernanos celebrated DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST as the perfection of his singular art I wholeheartedly agree In an introduction to this edition Fanny Howe wrote In this book Bernanos explores the uestion of what a person needs to live in the world At least one of the three criteria has to be met for a person to survive one needs to be useful to be loved to be safe Old people like the children of the poor are often deprived of all three This is what the story of Mouchette is out to discover What do we need to liveIn the novel itself Bernanos wrote People generally think that suicide is an act like any other the last link in a chain of reflections or at least of mental images the conclusion of a supreme debate between the instinct to live and another mysterious instinct of renouncement and refusal But it is not like that Apart from certain abnormal exceptions suicide is an inexplicable and frighteningly sudden event That strikes me as existentially true Later in the book Bernanos would add a gloss of sorts to this when he writes Suicide only really frightens those who are never tempted by it and never will be for its darkness only welcomes those who are predestined to it Unless he is mad the last feeling of the person who kills himself must be one of amazement and desperate surpriseStrange MOUCHETTE is a work of existential strangeness Suicide only frightens those who are never tempted by it and never will be for its darkness only welcomes those who are predestined to it 35 Realism so destitute et graceful as to attain a kind of shimmering deathly clarity and deep uarries of potential resonance Bresson made a film of it It jumped me at the library with its deep uarries of potential resonance Bresson made a film of it It jumped me at the library with its cover and only took a day to bolt through Here s a story of a 14 ear old girl in rural France translated from the French first published in 1937 so we assume we are harkening back to the author s The Alcohol Experiment youth in the early 1900 s Kerosene lanterns and candles give other clues of the era It s a dirt poor region of smugglers and poachers fueled by alcohol and abuse People dieoung from tuberculosis The deceased grandfather of Mouchette spent time in France s notorious prison in French Guyana probably Devil s Island Our main character is born into this world of poverty alcohol abuse disease and despair Even at this oung age Mouchette s role in life is so inculcated into her that she deliberately smudges her face when she goes into town because she is expected to look dirty Her teacher holds up her filthy hands to the class to be mocked Mouchette s short life exemplifies the time of human history when life was mean brutish and short A powerful book For ears I ve been obsessed with French cinema Every night I would choose an old French film from my collection and allow myself to be fully immersed in its elusive beauty I was once struck by the sophistication of French film making after watching Au revoir les enfants by Louise Malle I was also deeply enthralled by Hiroshima Mon Amour and I remember bawling my eyes out while watching Les uatre cents coups French cinema has the cinematic glamour of being exceedingly sophisticated and transcendental and it has been my niche since then There are films that I hold dear there are films I would re watch all the time and Mouchette is one of the films that I can t seem to let it slip into oblivion The last scene keeps playing in my head and my heart aches every time I think about the little poor wretch and her mental anguish The film itself has left an indelible mark on my psyche as it resonates with me on an intrinsic level through its exploration of existential dread and contemplation on suicideMouchette by Georges Bernanos was published in 1937 and a few decades later Robert Bressen turned the novella into a cinematic tour de force a film so heart wrenchingly harrowing that some viewers even regarded it as spiritual The story of Mouchette lacks all trace of exuberance she s a gloomy little creature regarded as a savage by all her schoolmates and teacher Her headmistress occasionally mocks her appearance and low status by holding up her brutish hand for the whole class to see what a little savage she is Her father is a drunkard who often beats her Ol teacher describes fourteen ear old Mouchette and that view is echoed by every right thinking local citizen Mouchette herself doesn’t bother to contradict it; ragged foulmouthed dirt poor a born liar and loser she knows herself to be in the words of the story “alone completely alon. This is one of those novels that doesn t overpower the reader with its sadness but rather works slowly to overwhelm them in a such a subtle way that the true impact falls upon ou only after ou ve turned the last page Mouchette Is The Story Of A Young is the story of a oung who at fourteen is lost somewhere between the world of childish confusion and grown up intuition Told in such beautiful and easy prose the harshness of the story is elevated into something pleasurable almost hiding the painful reality of Mouchette s plightOf course thoughts never passed through Mouchette s mind in such a logical way She was vague and jumped uickly from one thing to another If the very poor could associate the various images of their poverty they would be overwhelmed by it but their wretchedness seems to them to consist simply of an endless succession of miseries a series of unfortunate changes They are like blind men who with trembling fingers count out the coins whose value they cannot calculateThe emotion of the book comes not from the brutal events that befall Mouchette but from the fact that she barely cares She has resigned herself to being the little savage that her teacher and townspeople see She is aware of her ability to suffer through life but to what end To become like the adults around her with only new and different pains to come In much the same way as Kate Chopin s Awakening the reader accepts Mouchette s unwillingness to be bound to that sort of life and curses a world that allows such a decision to become the only appropriate one Another amazing novel in the NYRB New York Review Book series of reissues of incredible novels that deserve to live on There are works of literature that readers find strangeThis particular adjective or atmosphere transcends genre and by it I am not referring to the oddness or unreality of horror stories apocalyptic stories or science fiction stories Such books for all their imaginative richness are nonetheless written as or less straightforward narratives most commonly written to form they are escapist works and I mean this as a compliment to them as having purpose and value designed to give pleasure to the reader and therefore cause the reader no discomfort evoke in himher no reflection no uizzical expression or pause The strangeness of horror science fiction fantasy and noir is not the strangeness I wish to highlight hereBy contrast to the above works of literature aesthetically describable as strange are works that reuire real effort to fathom that do cause a measure of discomfort in the reader at least to the extent that heshe has to struggle to understand the book that do evoke reflection pause and the re reading of passages or pagesOf these books there are two general streaks of strangeness One there are what I will call books of mannered strangeness the self consciously strange the affectedly strange Examples of this type include books by David Foster Wallace Thomas Pynchon Tom Robbins William Vollmann Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolano among others I get no personal satisfaction from reading the mannered strange Two there are the what I will call books of existential strangeness the articulation of life s mysteriousness its dimensions of seeming absurdities and incomprehensibilities the articulation of the real behind
the factual The existential strange is recognizable and distinctive for the truthfactual The existential strange is recognizable and distinctive for the truth sounds in the soul of the reader It is less a matter of knowing the truth about a particular thing less a matter of knowing some thing than it is a matter of recognizing the true of having the reader s own inarticulable knowing articulated rather exactly and authentically in a work of literature The existential strange speaks of existence and experience it speaks to reality in its depth The existential strange uite unlike the mannered strange strikes the reader as having been written effortlessly flowingly Existential strangeness is beautiful no matter how dark is poetic even as prose and is honest especially if fictitious Examples of existential strangeness include everything written by Flannery O Connor books by Clarice Lispector NIGHTWOOD by Djuna Barnes and although BR Myers see his A READER S MANIFESTO AN ATTACK ON THE GROWING PRETENTIOUSNESS IN AMERICAN LITERARY PROSE would not agree with me on this I d add the works of Cormac McCarthyWhich lead. One of the great mavericks of French literature Georges Bernanos combined raw realism with a spiritual focus of visionary intensity Mouchette stands with his celebrated Diary of a Country Priest as the perfection of his singular art“Nothing but a little savage” is how the village scho. .