“Moira”: A Christian Novel, But . . .

A French Catholic writer named Julian Green wrote a novel, set in America, about an evangelical young man who sees Catholics as idolaters.  He is also too puritanical for his own intellectual and perhaps spiritual good (he believes his friend David, a sturdy Christian, is engaged to be married so he can fulfill the lusts of the flesh).  But the young man, Joseph Day by name, has a problem with his own flesh.

The novel is Moira (1951), and the title character is the beguiling daughter of Joseph’s landlady.  Though she has but a small part in the book, Moira represents for Joseph the temptation to sex just as a fellow student called Praileau—Joseph goes to a university—represents the temptation to violence, to physical conflict.  Joseph is a Christian who is building his house not on a rock but on sand.

A peculiar, straightforwardly written novel, Moira is more interesting than artistically successful.  The climax doesn’t come off, and it looks like the character of Joseph is going to be sufficiently worked out but it really isn’t.  Religious feeling exists in the book, and it is occasionally funny, but Green wanted too much to write a disturbing tragedy, however Christian.

 

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