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French writer (1888 - 1948)
Louis Émile Clément Georges Bernanos (1888-02-20)20 February 1888 Paris, France
Bernanos was born in Paris, into a family of craftsmen. He spent much of his childhood in the village of Fressin, Pas-de-Calais region, which became a frequent setting for his novels. He served in the First World War as a soldier, where he fought in the battles of the Somme and Verdun. He was wounded several times.
With political tensions rising in Europe, Bernanos emigrated to South America with his family in 1938, settling in Brazil. He remained until 1945 in Barbacena, State of Minas Gerais, where he tried his hand at managing a farm. His three sons returned to France to fight after World War II broke out, while he fulminated at his country's 'spiritual exhaustion,' which he saw as the root of its collapse in 1940. From exile he mocked the 'ridiculous' Vichy regime and became a strong supporter of the nationalistFree French Forces led by the conservativeCharles De Gaulle. After France's Liberation, De Gaulle invited Bernanos to return to his homeland, offering him a post in the government. Bernanos did return but, disappointed to perceive no signs of spiritual renewal, he declined to play an active role in French political life.
Dialogues des Carmélites: in 1947, Bernanos had been hired to write the dialogue for a film screenplay, through Raymond-Léopold Bruckberger and the scenario writer Philippe Agostini, based on the novellaDie Letzte am Schafott by German novelist Gertrud von Le Fort, about the 1794 execution of the Carmelite Nuns of Compiègne. The screenplay was judged unsatisfactory at the time. Following Bernanos' death his literary executor, Albert Béguin, discovered the manuscript. To assist Bernanos' heirs, Béguin sought to have the work published, requesting permission from Baroness von Le Fort for publication. In January 1949 she agreed, gifting her portion of the royalties over to Bernanos' widow and children. However, the Baroness requested that Bernanos' play be given a different title from her novella. Béguin chose Dialogues des Carmélites, and the work was published in 1949. It was translated into German, published there in 1951 as Die begnadete Angst (The Blessed Fear) and first staged in Zurich and Munich that year. The French stage première took place in May 1952 at the Théâtre Hébertot. The composer Francis Poulenc adapted Bernanos' work into an opera of the same name, which was first performed at La Scala Milan in 1957. A film based on Bernanos' play and starring Jeanne Moreau was released in 1960.
^Gendre, Claude, 'The Literary Destiny of the Sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne and the Role of Emmet Lavery'. Renascence, 48.1, pp 37-60 (Fall 1995).
^Gendre, Claude, 'Dialogues des Carmélites: the historical background, literary destiny and genesis of the opera', from Francis Poulenc: Music, Art and Literature (Sidney Buckland and Myriam Chimènes, editors). Ashgate (Aldershot, UK), ISBN1859284078, p 287 (1999).
von Balthasar, Hans Urs (2011). Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence. Ignatius Press.
Blumenthal, Gerda (1965). The Poetic Imagination of Georges Bernanos: An Essay in Interpretation. The Johns Hopkins Press.
Braybrooke, Neville (1954). "Georges Bernanos," The Irish Monthly, Vol. 83, No. 969, pp. 174-179.
Bush, William (1969). Georges Bernanos. Twayne Publishers.
Field, Frank (1975). Three French Writers: Studies in the Rise of Communism and Fascism.
Hebblethwaite, Peter (1965). Bernanos, an Introduction. London: Bowes and Bowes.