Gabriel Marcel's Perspectives on the Broken World: The Broken World, a Four-Act Play: Followed by Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery

Gabriel Marcel's Perspectives on the Broken World: The Broken World, a Four-Act Play: Followed by Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery

Gabriel Marcel's Perspectives on the Broken World: The Broken World, a Four-Act Play: Followed by Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery

Gabriel Marcel's Perspectives on the Broken World: The Broken World, a Four-Act Play: Followed by Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery

Synopsis

Presents Marcel's four-act play, "The Broken World", followed by his essay "Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery, commentaries by Henri Gouhier and Marcel Belay, and a companion essay by K. R. Hanley; all translated and with notes by K. R. Hanley. Eight appendices, secondary bibliography, index.

Excerpt

The French are different from you and me. They are also different from one another. You might imagine a line on which Jacques Maritain occupies a point to the right, Paul Claudel one to the left, and in the middle, smiling like a somewhat enigmatic Cheshire cat, sits Gabriel Marcel.

Marcel refers to both men in "Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery." Claudel his senior--Marcel's father would have been a contemporary of Claudel's in the French diplomatic corps--was both dramatist and poet, and his Catholicism influenced his imaginative work in a fairly overt way. Early on, in Le partage du midi, Claudel dealt with dramatic problems like those that occupy The Broken World. He also reflected on his art, but his reflections are themselves a species of poetry.

Maritain for a time exercised a literary influence in Paris that aspired to rival that of André Gide. He never quite brought this off and there are those who feel that his influence on writers, when he intruded into the creative process--as with Bernanos in his first novel--was anything but happy. Marcel finally resisted the lure of the Maritain salon at Meudon which drew Cocteau, Sachs, Julian Green, and many other artists. Maritain was not himself an artist (the doodles in his diaries do not count). Furthermore, the book that most influenced artists at a distance was Art and Scholasticism, an extremely didactic and, well, scholastic book. But it can be argued that it is Maritain's best work in aesthetics, better even than his Mellon lectures, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry.

Compared with Claudel and Maritain, Gabriel Marcel strikes us as what the other two never succeeded in being. He is at once creative artist and genuine philosopher. One experiences an initial incredulity in going from the play to the essay in the work before us. It is as if Evelyn Waugh made an appearance in Mind or The New Scholasticism. Of course one can imagine an artist mimicking a philosophical style, but not writing a complete study that is as different from a play as one can imagine. Katharine Rose Hanley suggests that we read the philosophical essay as if it were a piece of music, and what she says apropos of Marcel is always to be heeded. Still, I would never have thought of that without her suggestion. Untutored by my betters, I would have said that, while Marcel was right to see his mode of philosophizing as out of what considered itself to be the mainstream of the time, his affinities with phenomonelogy and existentialism make it clear that his philosophical credentials are in good order. Marcel both represents for us, and treats thematically, the question as to whether there is an artistic and philosophical approach to the same issue.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.