Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Erratum: Pouvourville

In Against the Modern World I give the dates of Albert de Pouvourville ("Matgioï") as 1861-1940. In fact, he died in 1939. Thanks to Andriy Voloshyn for pointing this out.


François Gravel said...

I was quite surprised by Mr. Sedgwick’s claim that Albert de Pouvourville’s Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux "is not to be found in the French National Library," thus implying that he might have never written such a religious work nor ever returned to the Church (Against the Modern World, p. 287, n. 83). I can assure the author that this book was indeed printed on April 25, 1934, complete with the imprimatur and a preface by Alfred Baudrillart, Archbishop of Malatya and Chancellor of the Institut catholique de Paris. I actually own a copy of Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, protectrice des peuples which I bought a few years ago from a used bookstore in Montreal (Québec, Canada). I scanned some excerpts from the book and uploaded them here:

As a writer de Pouvourville here resorts to an insufferably soppy style, as might be expected given the subject matter. The tone is also surprisingly chauvinistic along the lines of "France, eldest daughter of the Church," divinely invested with a "special mission in the world" which "sets France apart from other peoples" (read p. 90-93 and 102-105). The author emphasizes Thérèse’s role as patron saint of missions (p. 155-160) and as an inspiration for "the Church militant in pagan lands" (p. 158), including Ceylon and China (p. 159). Nowadays, enthuses the late Matgioi, "the Asian pagan’s pagoda itself (…) becomes an altar conducive to prayer rising to Thérèse" (p. 143), and her image reaches "even the ancient pagodas of Indochina" (p. 160). Not to forget "little Linz," a Chinese child from Shanghai whose wounds from a shell were miraculously healed by the saint in July of 1913 (p. 151-152). Not exactly what we would expect from the translator of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.

Mark Sedgwick said...

Thank you, and thank you also for uploading those excerpts.

François Gravel said...

You’re welcome, Prof. Sedgwick. In an April 4, 1940 letter René Guénon explains away de Pouvourville’s Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux as a "commissioned work" merely driven by "the need for money" ( Assuming this was his true motivation, it’s hard to see why he would have gone so far as to serve as banner-carrier during the 1930 feasts celebrating the Carmelite nun’s canonization—four years before the publication of his book. It wouldn’t be the first case of a French occultist drawn back, if only for a time, to Catholicism; one only has to think of Jules Doinel or Jean Marquès-Rivière.