Spiritual Truth In “The Loved and the Unloved”

In the French novel The Loved and the Unloved (1952), or Galigai, by Francois Mauriac, Madame Agathe (or Galigai) hopes that by exerting her will she will cause a young man, Nicholas Plassac, to enter a romantic liaison with her.  But Agathe is physically repelling and the efforts do not work.  Mauriac has written that, for his part, Nicholas has an “idol” he must be separated from, this being not Agathe but Gilles Salone, a fellow with whom Nicholas maintains a strong friendship.

Themes in the book include the limited power of amatory love and friendship, and when sacrifice is less than moral.  It is shown that idols go, like life itself, and there is the idea of divine love at dead ends.  About a particular character in the book, Mauriac writes, “It was as though he had agreed with somebody to meet him there,” the “somebody” being God.

Though not perfect, The Loved and the Unloved is a probing novel which certainly should be read more than once, as I have done.  In its translation by Gerard Hopkins, it was penned with lovely and clever clarity:  “that living silence of the night which is the very peace of God”. . . “She could feel in her flesh what such a night must mean to two young creatures pressing together under the tulip-tree, two creatures whose happiness she was about to sully.”  Mauriac was a writer, all right.

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