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The Song at the Scaffold: A Novel of Horror and Holiness in the Reign of Terror [Anglais] [Broché]

Gertrud von le Fort


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Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  10 commentaires
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Short but sweet hymn of praise.... 28 juillet 2010
Par Mary Esterhammer-Fic - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Sometimes when I'm having a really bad day, I tell myself, "Well, at least it's not as bad as the Reign of Terror!" Because that's pretty hard to beat. A huge segment of the French population was seized by a bloodthirsty mass hysteria, and those who didn't go along with the program were in line to get their heads sliced off. (Which, as I point out in my review of STIFF, does not result in instant death--your head is actually conscious for a few seconds! Ew!)

One of the enemies of the country, according to the revolutionaries, was the Church. This was a dark period of repression and persecution, and this brief book explores the effects of the Terror on a Carmelite community. It's based on a true incident: as the Sisters were being led to their execution, these courageous and devout women actually sang; they felt privileged to be able to give their lives for Christ.

One of the characters in the book is entirely fictitious--a young Carmelite who is almost paralyzed by fear even when faced with mundane challenges. It is her greatest weakness....or perhaps her greatest strength ! This is an uncommon way of looking at fear: is it a curse, as most of us seem to believe, something to be fought and overcome? Or is it a blessing, a gift of spiritual insight? Did Jesus feel real fear as he prayed in Gethsemene?

You can read this book in a few hours, but it is worth a couple of readings. It is also worth thinking about the nature of fear, especially those fears particular to each of us.

And don't forget, the Terror was not the last chapter in the story of the Carmelites. The legacy of the order remains vibrant today, at work in our parishes and schools.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 To Quench the Terror 29 décembre 2009
Par Jennifer D. Walker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I purchased this slender volume on a whim, when I read a scant aside from Saint Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) that it had helped to make the Carmelite Order better known.

I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Based on a true story of a convent of Carmelite nuns who faced the persecution of all religious orders during the Reign of Terror in 18th Century France, it is a wonderfully written, brief, to the point, contemplation of what it means to make a deep sacrifice for one's faith.

In addition to this little novel, the same story has been treated as an opera by Poulenc, titled "The Dialogue of the Carmelites".
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Faith and the endless struggle 7 décembre 2011
Par GDP - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The Song at the Scaffold is a short book of about 110 pages, but potentially contains more riches and pleasures than suggested by its length. The book (1931) is what it is, while its potential depends a great deal on the openness of the reader to Le Fort's transcendental message. Ostensibly this is the historically-grounded tale of Carmelite nuns dying at the guillotine during France's Reign of Terror. But Le Fort's story is a timeless one of the struggle for faith, which is portrayed as an interior, personal struggle compounded by that struggle taking place within a culture often hostile to it.

The story is told by means of a letter written subsequent to the events from a French nobleman who remained in Paris to witness those events; the epistle is sent to a pre-revolutionary friend who had emigrated, and therefore did not.

The central events of the tale involve 16 Carmelite nuns, all of whom are based upon fact with the exception of the key character Blanche, who is Le Fort's own creation. Blanche is, in one possible reading, a doeppelgänger of another nun, Constance. The two enter the monastery together as novices (Constance: "Dear little Sister Blanche," she says, "let us always hold together, you and I.." is only one of many such repeated suggestions).

Le Fort wrote the book at the tail-end of the Weimar era, in a Germany being roiled from both the right and the left, National Socialists and Communists. Should she stay, or emigrate? If one stays, how should one conduct oneself? One choice made in the book is made by the First Commissioner, a former sacristan: "... I've got to howl with the wolves!" The Carmelites, of course, make another. And the letter writer who relates the events?

Le Fort's literary style is often referred to as "sacramental realism" or the literary portrayal of dynamic transformations of a transcendent nature, rather than conventional material realism. These depicted transformations reveal an outward conduct that is an expression of a living faith, which in turn holds the potential to resonate and ripple throughout the wider world.

Another book may prove worthwhile: William Rush's To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiegne Guillotined July 17, 1794 provides a concise, but wonderful history of the actual events (including important parallels between the historical Constance and the fictional Blanche).

If you found this book as a result of opera, to further appreciate Poulenc's 'Dialogues of the Carmelites' (1957), a little extra digging into the background of the multi-step transposition from novella to libretto will also pay-off as there are several alterations from the source (some necessitated by the change in genre). Poulenc's correspondence helps, too, particular regarding the character of Mere Marie.

Individual reaction to the opera will likely range as widely as to that of the book. For some it is a pleasant evening at the opera enjoying Poulenc's craftsman-like score with its emotionally jarring finale; while to others it is a revelation, both affirming and challenging. To that extent, it is absolutely faithful to the source.
13 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A book about the nature of courage and fear 7 juin 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The true story of the Carmelite nuns beheaded during the last few days of the French Revolution. The heroine, Blanche, is the only fictional member of the history. The story questions the nature of extreme sensitivity and morbid fear in the face of the French Revolution and questions whether such fear is a matter of shame or a gift from God.
13 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Romantic and spiritual review of the story of Compiègne nuns 6 juillet 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Probably the best book never created about the Compiègne nuns. Far above from the Bernanos interpretation.
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