"What is intelligence without delight?."
By Paul Claudel, as quoted in Barlett's Quotations

By Janet Bishop

Paul Claudel was born in Villeneuve-sur-Fere France in 1868. He came from a family of farmers and gentry. His father Louis Prospre was a banker.His mother came from a family of farmers and priests.

Claudel had a sympathetic,and tender relationship with his troubled older sister Camille. Camille Claudel was a famous sculptress, a student of legendary sculpter, Auguste Rodin who became Rodin's mistress when she was 19 years old,though he was 20 years her senior.Camille's work always stood in Rodin's shadow.Fifteen years later, Rodin decided to stay with his common law wife,Rose,and Camille fell apart. At that time, subject to frequent fits of rage, she destroyed much of her own work. Many years later Paul's granddaugher Madame Paris acquired Camille's first sculpture, as well as others.

Paul Claudel,was one of two family members who committed Camille to a mental hospital where she spent the last 30 years of her life, passing away at age 82.It is said, Paul remained plagued with doubt about this decision,throughout his life.

"He gives me the impression of a solidified cyclone." Andre Gide on Paul Claudel in Journal 1905.

Paul had a revelation at age 18, and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, He remained always a faithful follower of the Catholic church,never missing an opportunity to declare the faith.The Bible was the center of Paul's world and his inspiration. Claudel saw God as the supreme architect of the world, and believed that God chose man to be in the central place in the drama of the world.

"The greatest genius of the west, for our time."

Paul Claudel was prolific, authoring many plays, essays, poems and Christian apologetics. He had many admirers and detractors. He made no concessions to the public.The Catholic world inside and out of France were slow to accept him. His attitude toward the literary world, and even the world in general has seemed hostile, and yet the writer joined gladly,in the Catholic revival in France: in art,philosophy, and liturgy. As Claudel steered clear of literary cliques, his presence was felt by its sheer,spiritual weight. Many of his contemporaries called Paul Claudel" the greatest genius of the west for our time."

After studies in Paris, he joined the diplomatic service (1898).It was during his diplomatic sojourns that Paul Claudel created the greater part of his work. Two years later, he entered the Abbey of Liguge as an oblate (a layman in a monastery who doesn't take vows)in the Benedictine order. A clandestine love affair with a married woman, prompted the theme of forbidden love to be notable in his writing, during this period.

"It is above all, the harassing and well-nigh unbearable unity of his work..which. tyrannizes the readers intelligence".Wallace Flowlie on Claudel, in Clowns and Angels , 1943

. Claudel married Sainte-Marie Perrin in 1906.As a diplomat (1898-1934), Paul was often outside France,working in America, China, Italy, Rio De Janeiro, and attained the rank of ambassador.Auguste Rodin,facilitated Claudel's entry into the diplomatic service, through his influence.

During the 1940's Claudel opposed the Nazis, writing a triumphal ode to Charles DeGaul.In 1947 he was elected to the Acadamie Francaise. He was also honored by the Pope in an unprecidented ceremony. Paul Claudel passed away in 1955,his mental powers as keen as ever until the very end. and some say, his high temper and animosities stayed strong as well.

Today, Paul Claudel appears to us like a patriarch, contemplating our world in its confusion and evil.

My English Translation of Paul Claudel's essay, "Votre Face, Seigneur" (Your Face,Lord)

"Your Face, Lord"

In the Original French:

Votre Face,Lord"

The Plays of Paul Claudel:

Tete D'or (Golden Head) 1890

L'Otage (The Hostage) 1911

La Pain Dur (Hard Bread) 1918

Le Pere Humilie (The Humiliated Father) 1920

  Le Soulier de Satin (The Satin Slipper) 1930

Partage De Midi ( Break at Noon) 1948

Faite A Marie (The Tidings Brought to Mary) 1912

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