Bloy in 1887
|Born||11 July 1846|
Notre-Dame-de-Sanilhac, Kingdom of France
|Died||3 November 1917 71) (aged|
Bourg-la-Reine, French Republic
Léon Bloy (11 July 1846 – 3 November 1917) was a French novelist, essayist, pamphleteer, and poet, known additionally for his eventual, passionate defense of Roman Catholicism and influence within French Catholic circles.
Bloy was born on 11 July 1846 in Notre-Dame-de-Sanilhac, in the arondissement of Périgueux, Dordogne. He was the second of six sons of Jean-Baptiste Bloy, a Voltairean freethinker, and Anne-Marie Carreau, a stern disciplinarian and pious Spanish-Catholic daughter of a Napoleonic soldier.After an agnostic and unhappy youth in which he cultivated an intense hatred for the Roman Catholic Church and its teaching, his father found him a job in Paris, where he went in 1864. In December 1868, he met the aging Catholic author Barbey d'Aurevilly, who lived opposite him in rue Rousselet and who became his mentor. Shortly afterwards, he underwent a dramatic religious conversion.
Bloy was a friend of the author Joris-Karl Huysmans, the painter Georges Rouault, the philosophers Jacques and Raïssa Maritainand was instrumental in reconciling these intellectuals with Roman Catholicism. However, he acquired a reputation for bigotry because of his frequent outbursts of temper. For example, in 1885, after the death of Victor Hugo, whom Bloy believed to be an atheist, Bloy decried Hugo's "senility", "avarice", and "hypocrisy", identifying Hugo among "contemplatives of biological scum." Bloy's first novel, Le Désespéré, a fierce attack on rationalism and those he believed to be in league with it, made him fall out with the literary community of his time and even many of his old friends. Soon, Bloy could count such prestigious authors as Émile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Ernest Renan, and Anatole France as his enemies.
In addition to his published works, he left a large body of correspondence with public and literary figures. He died on 3 November 1917 in Bourg-la-Reine.
Bloy was noted for personal attacks, but he saw them as the mercy or indignation of God. According to Jacques Maritain, he used to say: "My anger is the effervescence of my pity."
Among the many targets of Bloy's attacks were people of business. In an essay in Pilgrim of the Absolute, he compared the businessmen of Chicago unfavourably to the cultured people of Paris:
"In Paris you have the Saint Chapelle and the Louvre, true enough, but we in Chicago kill eighty thousand hogs a day!..." The man who says that is in truth a business man.— Léon Bloy, "Les Affaires Sont Les Affaires" ("Business Is Business") in "The Wisdom of the Bourgeois", part of Pilgrim of the Absolute.
Inspired by both the millennialist visionary Eugène Vintrasand the reports of an apparition at La Salette—Our Lady of La Salette—Bloy was convinced that the Virgin's message was that if people did not reform, the end time was imminent. He was particularly critical of the attention paid to the shrine at Lourdes and resented the fact that it distracted people from what he saw as the less sentimental message of La Salette.
Bloy is quoted in the epigraph at the beginning of Graham Greene's novel The End of the Affair, though Greene claimed that "this irate man lacked creative instinct". [ citation needed ] In Chile historian Jaime Eyzaguirre came to be influenced by Bloy's writings.He is further quoted in the essay "The Mirror of Enigmas" by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who acknowledged his debt to him by naming him in the foreword to his short story collection "Artifices" as one of seven authors who were in "the heterogeneous list of the writers I am continually re-reading". In his novel The Harp and the Shadow, Alejo Carpentier excoriates Bloy as a raving, Columbus-defending lunatic during Vatican deliberations over the explorer's canonization. Bloy is also quoted at the beginning of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany , and there are several quotations from his Letters to my Fiancée in Charles Williams's anthology The New Christian Year. Le Désespéré was republished in 2005 by Éditions Underbahn with a preface by Maurice G. Dantec.
According to the historian John Connelly, Bloy's Le Salut par les Juifs, with its apocalyptically radical interpretation of chapters 9 to 11 of Paul's Letter to the Romans, had a major influence on the Catholic theologians of the Second Vatican Council responsible for section 4 of the council's declaration Nostra aetate , the doctrinal basis for a revolutionary change in the Catholic Church's attitude to Judaism.
In 2013, Pope Francis surprised many by quoting Bloy during his first homily as pope.
Bloy and his effect on 21st-century French scholars make a significant appearance in Michel Houellebecq's 2015 novel Submission .
A study in English is Léon Bloy by Rayner Heppenstall (Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes, 1953).
Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola was a French novelist, playwright, journalist, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'Accuse…! Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.
Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans was a French novelist and art critic who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans. He is most famous for the novel À rebours. He supported himself by a 30-year career in the French civil service.
Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly was a French novelist and short story writer. He specialised in mystery tales that explored hidden motivation and hinted at evil without being explicitly concerned with anything supernatural. He had a decisive influence on writers such as Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Henry James, Leon Bloy, and Marcel Proust.
François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian who founded Romanticism in French literature. Descended from an old aristocratic family from Brittany, Chateaubriand was a royalist by political disposition. In an age when a number of intellectuals turned against the Church, he authored the Génie du christianisme in defense of the Catholic faith. His works include the autobiography Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe, published posthumously in 1849–1850.
Our Lady of La Salette is a Marian apparition reported by two children, Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Calvat to have occurred at La Salette-Fallavaux, France, in 1846.
Jacques Maritain was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised Protestant, he was agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive Thomas Aquinas for modern times, and was influential in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor. The same pope had seriously considered making him a lay cardinal, but Maritain rejected it. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics, the nature of education, liturgy and ecclesiology.
Léon Daudet was a French journalist, writer, an active monarchist, and a member of the Académie Goncourt.
Ernest Hello was a French Roman Catholic writer, who produced books and articles on philosophy, theology, and literature.
À rebours (1884) is a novel by the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans. The narrative centers on a single character: Jean des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive, ailing aesthete. The last scion of an aristocratic family, Des Esseintes loathes nineteenth century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation. The narrative is almost entirely a catalogue of the neurotic Des Esseintes' aesthetic tastes, musings on literature, painting and religion, and hyperaesthesic sensory experiences.
Henry de Groux was a Belgian Symbolist painter, sculptor and lithographer. His 1889 painting Christ attacked by a mob made when he was only 22 years old established his reputation as an innovative Symbolist painter and ensured his admission to the progressive artistic circles in Brussels. He spent most of his active career in Paris. He produced many works depicting the horrors of the First World War in the latter part of his career.
Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, in full Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, is a Melkite Greek Catholic parish church in Paris, France, and one of the city's oldest religious buildings. Built in Romanesque style during the 13th century, it is situated in the 5th arrondissement, on the Left Bank of the Seine River, about 500 meters away from the Musée de Cluny and in the proximity of the Maubert-Mutualité Paris Métro station. It shares a city block with the Square René Viviani.
Françoise Mélanie Calvat, called Mathieu, was a French Roman Catholic nun and Marian visionary. As a religious, she was called Sister Mary of the Cross. Together with Maximin Giraud, she was one of the two Marian visionaries of Our Lady of La Salette.
Pierre Maximin Giraud, known as Maximin Giraud, was a French member of the Corps of Papal Zouaves and a Marian visionary of Our Lady of La Salette.
François Angelier is a French journalist, presenter, essayist, biographer and author of fantasy novels.
Jaime Eyzaguirre was a Chilean lawyer, essayist and historian. He is variously recognized as a writer of traditionalist or conservative historiography in his country.
The Woman Who Was Poor is an 1897 novel by the French writer Léon Bloy. It follows a woman, Clotilde, who becomes involved with the Paris art and literary scene in the 1880s. It was Bloy's second novel. An English translation by I. J. Collins was published in 1939.
Paul-Napoléon Roinard was a French anarchist poet.
Adolphe van Bever was a 19th–20th-century French bibliographer and erudite.
Jean d'Azémar de Fabrègues was a French Catholic intellectual and journalist. He was a "traditional" Catholic, rejecting the materialism of both liberal democracy and the totalitarian regimes of the right and the left.
The Desperate Man is a novel written by French author Léon Bloy and originally prepared for publication in 1886 but officially published in 1887. That the author's first novel should have had such a rocky start seems characteristic of the life of both author and protagonist.