Short summary - Under the Sun of Satan - Sous le soleil de Satan - Georges Bernanos

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Under the Sun of Satan - Sous le soleil de Satan
Georges Bernanos

Germaine Malortey, nicknamed Muscetta, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a Campagne brewer, once entered the dining room with a bucket full of fresh milk and felt unwell; the parents immediately guessed that she was pregnant. The stubborn girl does not want to say who the father of the unborn child is, but her father realized that he could only be the Marquis de Cadignan - a local red tape, who had already gone to his fifties. Daddy Malortey goes to the Marquis with a proposal to "settle the matter amicably", but the Marquis confuses him with his composure, and the confused brewer begins to doubt the correctness of his guess, especially since the Marquis, having learned that Muscetta is engaged to the son of Ravo, tries to shift the blame " on him. Malortey resorts to the last resort: he says that his daughter has opened up to him, and, seeing the Marquis's distrust, he swears this. Saying that the "lying toadstool" is fooling both of them, each in their own way, the Marquis dismisses the brewer.
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Malortey wants revenge; returning home, he shouts that he will pull the marquis to court: after all, Mushetta is underage. Muscetta assures that the marquis has nothing to do with it, but his father, in his impetuosity, says that he told the marquis that Muscetta had told him everything, and he had to confess everything. Muscetta is in despair: she loves the Marquis and is afraid of losing his respect, and now he considers her an oath-breaker, because she promised him to be silent. At night she leaves the house. Coming to the Marquis, Muscetta says that he will not return home, but the Marquis does not want to leave her with him and is afraid of publicity. He gently reproaches Muscetta for telling her father everything, and is very surprised to hear that in fact she kept the secret of their love. The Marquis explains that he is a beggar, that he cannot keep Muscetta with him, and offers her a third of the money that will remain with him after the sale of the mill and the payment of debts. Muscetta angrily refuses: she fled through the darkness of the night, challenging the whole world, not in order to find another dork, another well-meaning dad. Disappointment in her lover and contempt for him are great, but she nevertheless asks the marquis to take her away - no matter where. The Marquis offers to wait until Muschetta has a child, and then it is already up to him to decide what to do, but Muscetta assures him that she is not pregnant at all and her father simply laughed at the Marquis. She even goes so far as to tell the Marquis that she has another lover - the deputy of Gale, the sworn enemy of the Marquis, she will not be denied anything with him. The Marquis does not believe her, but in order to anger him, she insists on her own. The Marquis rushes to her and takes possession of her by force. Not remembering himself from anger and humiliation, Muscetta grabs a gun and shoots the marquis almost point-blank, after which he jumps out the window and disappears.
Soon she really becomes the mistress of the deputy Gale. Appearing to him in the absence of his wife, she reports that she is pregnant. Gale is a doctor, it is not so easy to deceive him: he believes that Mushetta is either mistaken or not pregnant with him, and in no case agrees to help Mushetta get rid of the child - after all, this is a violation of the law. Muscetta asks Gale not to drive her away - she is not at ease. But then Gale notices that the door of the laundry is open and the window in the kitchen too - it looks like his wife, whom he is very afraid of, has unexpectedly returned. In a fit of frankness, Muscetta tells Gale that she is pregnant with the Marquis de Cadignan, and confesses that she killed him. Seeing that Muscetta is on the verge of insanity, Gale chooses not to believe her, because she has no proof. The shot was fired from such a close distance that no one doubted that the marquis had committed suicide. Consciousness of his own powerlessness causes an attack of violent insanity in Mushetta: she begins to howl like a beast. Gale calls for help. His wife arrived in time to help him cope with Mushetta, who allegedly came on behalf of his father. She is sent to a psychiatric hospital, from where she leaves a month later, "having given birth to a dead child there and completely cured of her illness."
Bishop Papouen sends to Abbot Menou-Segre the recently ordained seminary graduate Donissan - a broad-shouldered fellow, simple-minded, ill-mannered, not very smart and not very educated. His piety and diligence do not atone for his awkwardness and inability to connect two words. He himself believes that he is not able to fulfill the duties of a parish priest, and is going to petition to be recalled to Tourcoing. He devoutly believes, sits over books all night long, sleeps two hours a day, and gradually his mind develops, sermons become more eloquent, and parishioners begin to treat him with reverence and listen to his teachings with attention. The abbot of the Oburden district, who took over the conduct of the penitential meetings, asks Menu-Segre for permission to involve Donissan in the confession of the penitent. Donissan zealously fulfills his duty, but he does not know joy, he doubts himself all the time, in his abilities. Secretly from everyone, he is engaged in self-flagellation, with all his might whips himself with the chain. One day Donissan goes on foot to Etall, which is three leagues away, to help the priest there to confess the faithful. He goes astray and wants to go back to Campagne, but he cannot find a way back either. Suddenly, he meets a stranger who is heading to Shalendre and offers to walk part of the way together. The stranger says that he is a horse dealer and knows the local places well, therefore, despite the fact that the night is moonless and the darkness is everywhere, even gouge his eyes out, he can easily find his way. He speaks very affectionately with Donissan, who is already exhausted from the long walk. Staggering with fatigue, the priest grabs his companion, feeling the support in him. Suddenly Donissan realizes that the dealer is Satan himself, but he does not give up, resists his power with all his might, and Satan retreats. Satan says he was sent to test Donissan. But Donissan objects: "The Lord sends me a test <...> In this time, the Lord sent me a strength that you cannot overcome." And at the same moment his companion fades, the outlines of his body become vague - and the priest sees his double in front of him. Despite all his efforts, Donissan cannot distinguish himself from a double, but still retains partly a sense of his integrity. He is not afraid of his double, who suddenly turns into a dealer again. Donissan rushes at him - but there is only emptiness and darkness all around. Donissan loses consciousness. He is revived by a cab from Saint-Pré. He says that, together with the young man, he moved him to the side of the road. Having heard that the dealer is a real person, Donissan still cannot understand what happened to him, "whether he is possessed by demons or insanity, whether he has become a play of his own imagination or evil spirits," but it does not matter, as long as he grace will come down.
Before dawn, Donissan is already on the way to Campani. Not far from the castle of the Marquis de Cadignan, he meets Muscetta, who often wanders there, and wants to take her away from there. He has the gift of reading in souls: he sees the mystery of Mushetta. Donissan takes pity on Muscetta, considering her innocent of murder, for she was an instrument in the hands of the Devil. Donissan gently admonishes her. Returning to Kamlan, Donissan tells Menu-Segre about his meeting with the satan-dealer and about his gift to read in human souls. Menou-Segre accuses him of pride. Muscetta returns home on the verge of another fit of insanity. She calls on Satan. He appears, and she understands that the time has come to kill herself. She steals a razor from her father and slits her own throat. Dying, she asks to be taken to the church, and Donissan, despite the protests of Malorti's broadsword, takes her there. Donissana is placed in the Vaubecourt hospital, and then sent to the Tortefonten deserts, where he spends five years, after which he is assigned to a branch in the village of Lumbre.
Many years pass. Everyone reveres Donissan as a saint, and the owner of the farm, Plui Avre, whose only son fell ill, comes to Donissan, asking him to save the boy. When Donissan, along with Sabiru, the priest of the Luzarne parish, to which Plui belongs, come to Avra, the boy is already dead. Donissan wants to resurrect the child, it seems to him that it should work out, but he does not know. God or the Devil instilled this idea in him. The attempt at resurrection is unsuccessful.
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parish priest from Luzarne, together with a young doctor from Chavranches, decide to make a pilgrimage to Lumbre. Donissan is not at home, a visitor is already waiting for him - the famous writer Antoine Saint-Marin. This empty and bilious old man, the idol of the reading public, calls himself the last of the Hellenes. Driven primarily by curiosity, he wants to look at the Lumbra saint, whose fame reached Paris. Donissan's dwelling is striking in its ascetic simplicity. In Donissan's room, dried blood splashes are visible on the wall - the result of his self-torture. Saint-Maren is shocked, but he regains control of himself and passionately argues with the Luzarne priest. Without waiting for Donissan at his house, all three go to church, but he is not there either. Anxiety seizes them: Donissan is already old and suffers from angina pectoris. They look for Donissan and finally decide to follow the Verneiss road to Roy, where there is a cross. Saint-Maren remains in the church and, when everyone leaves, feels how peace gradually reigns in his soul. Suddenly, the thought occurs to him to look into the confessional: he opens the door and sees Donissan there, who has died of a heart attack. "Leaning against the back wall of the confessional ... resting with numb legs on a thin board ... the wretched skeleton of the Lumbra saint, numb in exaggerated immobility, looks as if a man wanted to jump to his feet when he saw something absolutely amazing, and so he froze."