"Temporal and Eternal" is a profound and poetic assessment of the relationship between tradition and liberty, between politics and society, and between Christianity and the modern world. The Liberty Fund edition includes a new foreword by Pierre Manent, professor of political science at the Centre de Recherches Politiques Raymond Aron in Paris.
As the twenty-first century begins, the relationships this book explores are as relevant as they were in the last century, when French poet and essayist Charles Péguy addressed them in “Memories of Youth” and “Clio I”, the two essays in this volume. In these essays Péguy develops his theme of la mystique—that which a person or a nation is—and la politique—mere policy. According to Péguy, “Everything begins as a mystique and ends as a politique.” A nation, then, that loses its mystique—that is, those traditions and customs that predate politics—loses both its liberty and its self-respect and becomes prone to totalitarian terror, by the right or the left. Specifically, Péguy uses the Dreyfus Affair (1894) as an example of how ideology and “national interest”—again, from both the right and the left—can deform mystique into politique. The reader is transported into an imaginative engagement with the great issues of liberty that were at stake when a single individual—Dreyfus—was unjustly condemned by his state solely for the convenience of persons in power.
Péguy rightly discerned in the displacement of mystique by politique in European life “the coming of a demagogic domination disastrous for liberties.” Thus, observes Pierre Manent, “the most important event in Péguy’s life and for his work was also of capital importance, not only for the French of his generation but also for the Western world ever since.”
The brevity, beauty, and timeless relevance of Péguy’s prose make this volume attractive for historians, scholars, and laymen.
Charles Pierre Péguy (January 7, 1873 – September 4, 1914) was a noted French poet, essayist, and editor. His two main philosophies were socialism and nationalism, but by 1908 at the latest, after years of uneasy agnosticism, he had become a devout but non-practicing Roman Catholic. From that time, Catholicism strongly influenced his works.
Péguy was born to poverty. His mother, widowed when he was an infant, mended chairs for a living. In 1894, benefitting from republican school reform, he was received in the École Normale Superieure, and attended notably the lectures of Henri Bergson and Romain Rolland, whom he befriended. He formally left the École Normale, without graduating, in 1897, even though he continued attending some lectures in 1898. Influenced by Lucien Herr (librarian of the École Normale), he became an ardent Dreyfusard.
From his earliest years, he was influenced by socialism. From 1900 to his death in 1914, he was the main contributor and the editor of the literary magazine Les Cahiers de la Quinzaine, which first supported the Socialist Party director Jean Jaurès. Péguy ultimately ended his support after he began viewing Jaurès as a traitor to the nation and to socialism. In the Cahiers, Péguy published not only his own essays and poetry, but also works by important contemporary authors such as Romain Rolland.
His free verse poem, "Portico of the Mystery of the Second Virtue", has gone through more than 60 editions in France. It was a favorite book of Charles de Gaulle.
He died in battle, shot in the forehead, in Villeroy, Seine-et-Marne during World War I, on the day before the beginning of the Battle of the Marne.
Benito Mussolini referred to Péguy as a "source" for Fascism. But, according to Zaretsky in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Péguy would have likely been horrified by this appropriation.
At the end of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock (1938), the unnamed Frenchman the old priest tells Rose about, who never took the sacraments but who some think was a saint, is obviously Péguy.
In 1983, Geoffrey Hill published a long poem with the title The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy.
Личен сайт: http://www.charlespeguy.fr/