Pascal: The Emergence of Genius

By Emile Cailliet | Go to book overview

1
The Emergence of a Pilgrim

"Truth shall spring out of the earth."

-Ps. 85:11

G od wills it! God wills it! God wills it! God wills it!"

The shout goes up from a thousand throats. Pope Urban II has just finished his sermon in the great square of Clermont "in the presence of four hundred bishops or mitred abbots, and of an immense gathering of the populace."1 Forthwith each one of these breasts is marked with a cross of red cloth, and, without further tarrying, one hundred thousand poor folk fall into line under the leadership of Peter the Hermit. Eastward moves the endless column -- toward the Danube Valley; toward the Bosphorus, where it will be cut to pieces by the Turks; on toward the Holy City, which at any cost must be set free. The nobles will follow later.

To this day, the memory of that uprising of a Christian people hovers over the vast, sloping square of Clermont; it stirs to life the robust, square outline of the basilica of Notre-Dame du Port, which for centuries has served as both church and citadel. This Romanesque structure, the greatest in all Auvergne, is buried like a huge cistern among the surrounding houses. Its sturdy bareness well bespeaks the character of the indomitable soul who reared its walls. Built of arkose, it is still quite light in color, like all the older churches in Auvergne. It will be some time before the builders begin to use stone cut from the lava, which they will prefer because it is more durable. In those early days, however, a single structure -- the Cathedral -- leaps forth from the soil of Auvergne, with a single heavenward thrust, springing from a single-minded faith, its unobstructed eminence crowning the crest of the hill.

____________________
1
Giraud Victor, La Vie héroïque de Blaise Pascal, Les Editions G. Crès et Cle, Paris, 1923, p. 4.

-17-

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Pascal: The Emergence of Genius
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction to the Torchbook Edition 6
  • Preface to the Torchbook Edition 14
  • I - The Emergence of a Pilgrim 17
  • II - An Open Mind in the Making 39
  • III - The Jansenist Quickening 53
  • IV - The Physicist Confronting His Bible 67
  • V - The Source of Our Unhappiness 85
  • VI - Pascal's Hour of Agony 111
  • VII - Fire in the Night 131
  • VIII - Glimpse of a Sanctuary 149
  • IX - The New Vista 167
  • X - Not Peace, but a Sword 187
  • XI - The Champion 207
  • XII - The Sign in the Midst of Battle 223
  • XIII - The Dictates of Conscience 243
  • XIV - Fighting a New Inquisition 267
  • XV - A Lamp Unto My Feet 289
  • XVI - Running the Way of the Lord 311
  • XVII - Holy Anxiety 339
  • XVIII - Meditation on a Death Mask 361
  • Appendix to the Torchbook Edition: Recent Research 364
  • Index 375
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