The SS. Peter & Paul 2012 edition of Dappled Things has just been published, and among its many offerings, it includes an excerpt from the first translation since 1939 of a classic of Catholic literature: Leon Bloy’s The Woman Who Was Poor. The issue also features an interview with the translator, DT Assistant Editor Joshua Hren, whose own literary work has been deeply influenced by Bloy. As Hren explains, The Woman Who Was Poor (La Femme Pauvre) played a crucial role in the conversion of luminaries such as Jacques and Raissa Maritain, and the painter Georges Rouault:
Raissa [Maritain] recounts how she and Jacques encountered Léon Bloy. Steeped in the intellectual nihilism of their times, troubled specifically by a scientific determinism the tenets of which they deeply understood and by which they were left in anguish, the two young geniuses, who were then courting, made a pact to commit suicide together on a given date, unless they should come in contact with absolute truth. If the world lacks absolute truth, as they had been taught, then existence, they concluded, is too cruel to countenance any longer. There is a remarkable earnestness to this proposition, even as it is extreme and dark. As their search for this truth ticked away, they happened to read a review of La Femme Pauvre that touted the novel as one of the only French works of the age that flashed with genuine metaphysical insights.
Upon reading the novel, they found themselves, “for the first time . . . before the reality of Christianity.”
We’re very excited to bring a portion of this classic back to print, and we hope you will relish it as much as we have. You can enjoy these and other offerings for free online, including the striking paintings of David Anthony Harman, but only print subscribers get the full range of what we publish. And, as many new subscribers write to tell us after receiving their first issue, at only $19.99 a year you’ll only wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner.