I’ve read only a couple of Francois Mauriac’s short stories, but naturally they serve up the same Christian-Catholic vision of life we find in his many novels.
It was in a 1969 book called Voices from France that I discovered “A Christmas Tale,” an absorbing Mauriac story about two boys who patently do not grow up to be like their mothers. Jean de Blaye, the story’s most prominent character, is bullied at school—bullied because his hair resembles that of a girl. The narrator, Frontenac, befriends Jean but is quite different from him. Both boys have Christian mothers but, by and by, do not go in a Christian direction.
About Frontenac’s mother Mauriac, in this quietly poetic and deeply spiritual fiction, writes: “But He lived in her. I could not think of them separately. The breath which I felt on my hair came from her in whom the spirit of God still dwelt.”
The narrator becomes a novelist. The bullied boy, Jean, although he grows stronger and more aggressive, becomes a depraved and defeated young man. The story concerns the unexpected fates of people in a saliently strange world. That one of these fates involves the indwelling of the spirit of God betokens that this is a world of much light.