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Ebook Jean Barois by Roger Martin du Gard read! Book Title: Jean Barois
The author of the book: Roger Martin du Gard
Edition: Gallimard Education
Date of issue: November 1st 2003
ISBN: 2070304426
ISBN 13: 9782070304424
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1664 times
Reader ratings: 4.6
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 33.73 MB

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One of the delights of Goodreads is to stumble upon old book friends and realise that they still mean as much now as when I spent nights reading, thinking, arguing with myself over them, decades ago.

"Jean Barois" is such a case. It appeared in my newsfeed and made me drop my current reading to go and look for the old, torn folio classique number 218, full of pencil marks in the margins.

Oh, how I suffered with the main character, who was fighting for common sense and rational thinking in a society deeply tainted, ... oh, sorry, that was biased, ... deeply coloured by Catholic bigotry ... oh, bias again, ... devout faith.

How I hated Cécile, his narrow-minded wife! And how I feared his inevitable end. Yes, they got him, they won the old, frail body over for the questionable power of the Church. He died within the rituals of that dominant sect, his wife triumphing over his weak flesh. The temptation to bet on afterlife's existence when you are about to give up an active, passionate life was too much to bear. Jean Barois was tempted by the Satan of his rationalist universe, and of course he yielded.

But he was an intelligent, planning, reflecting person, and he made sure he did not exit the stage like Don Quixote, renouncing forever the meaning of his life to please the mediocre environment in which he spent his last, quiet days after decades of fighting windmills.

Jean Barois left a testament written on the height of his intellectual power. He beat Cécile with a voice from the past.

I love that testament so much, I can't be bothered with the hypocrisy of the priest who watched the silly woman burn it, as if it made any difference.:

"Ceci est mon testament.

Ce que j'écris aujourd'hui, ayant dépassé la quarantaine, en pleine force et en plein équilibre intellectuel, doit, de toute évidence, prévaloir contre ce que je pourrai penser ou écrire à la fin de mon existence, lorsque je serai physiquement et moralement diminué par l'âge ou par la maladie. Je ne connais rien de plus poignant que l'attitude d'un vieillard dont la vie tout entière a été employée au service d'une idée, et qui, dans l'affaiblissement final, blasphème ce qui a été sa raison de vivre, et renie lamentablement son passé.
En songeant que l'effort de ma vie pourrait aboutir à une semblable trahison, en songeant au parti que ceux dont j'ai si ardamment combattu les mensonges et les empiétements ne manqueraient pas de tirer d'une si lugubre victoire, tout mon être se révolte, et je proteste d'avance, avec l'énergie farouche de l'homme que je suis, de l'homme vivant que j'aurai été, contre les dénégations sans fondement, peut-être même contre la prière agonisante du déchet humain que je puis devenir.
J'ai mérité de mourir debout, comme j'ai vécu..."

I think that is a splendid testament, written in full knowledge of the development of thought in old age. It has always made me quite uneasy when a whole life is explained away on the basis that a very old, scared individual did something to the contrary shortly before his or her death.

That action should be the final, real identity, just because it was the last comment on a long life?

No, what you fight for in life deserves to be the testament you leave, regardless of your very last hours of fear and weakness. In the same vein, I have no understanding for the religious belief that a life of crime and evil can be redeemed if you receive the last sacrament according to Catholic rituals. Does not sound right or logical to me either.

Jean Barois, you stand strong in my mind. And Cécile: it was not very Christian of you to burn that letter in your self-righteous wish to win. Destroying evidence does not support your cause in the long run, actually.

Do I have a strong opinion about these characters? Yes! Great Nobel, recommended!

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