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Old 06-30-2007, 05:56 PM   #1
Patricia
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Huysmans, Joris-Karl: The Cathedral, v.1, 30 June 2007

J-K Huysmans, The Cathedral (1898).
Translated by Clara Bell.
I've reformatted the text, removed some typos and added a TOC; also pictures of Chartres Cathedral and the Virgin of the Crypt at Chartres.

This is the third novel of the Durtal series (La Bas and En Route have already been posted). Durtal has made the leap of faith and has resolved to lead a religious life, though is not sure how. His confessor has accepted a post at Chartres Cathedral, where Durtal makes a prolonged visit. He develops a devotion to the two black madonnas there (the virgin of the crypt and the virgin of the pillar) and spends a lot of time exploring the symbolism of the cathedral. He also recalls trips to other sites of Marian devotion at La Sallette and Lourdes. Nothing much happens, but at the end of the novel Durtal decides to visit a Benedictine monastery to see whether he has a vocation.

This has some atmospheric descriptions of Chartres (partially drawn from Ruskin). It is possible to read the novel as an account of a religious conversion, or as an attempt to evade the modern world.
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