A Bad Dream
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By Georges Bernanos
A Bad Dream, Georges Bernanos’s posthumously published final novel, is a crime story in the vein of his debut novel Under the Sun of Satan and his compatriot François Mauriac’s novel The Dark Angels. In the novel’s first part, Bernanos provides a background of the jaded author Emmanuel Ganse and his tortured assistant, Olivier, who cut figures of unsuspecting complicity for the story’s ultimate drama. Both Ganse and Olivier harbor obsessions for Simone Alfieri, but only Olivier is successful in pursuing her—little suspecting that Simone’s superficial saintliness and “tremendous moral resistance” belie the ruthlessness that will drive her to violence. As the story moves through its second part, Simone concocts her deadly design, even as she wills her spiritual self-immolation.
Why shouldn’t bad dreams be borne by two people together? Bad dreams are a heavy weight to carry.
Combining a nightmare’s forbidding ambiguity with the piercing specificity of reality, A Bad Dream wrestles with the fundamentally supernatural aspect of crime: its origination in the Father of Lies.
Georges Bernanos (1888–1948) was a French author and critic, and winner of the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française in 1936 (for his novel A Diary of a Country Priest). A devout Roman Catholic, Bernanos wrote numerous novels, stories, and essays on the nature of faith, society, and suffering.