A Kiss for the Leper
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By François Mauriac | With an Essay by Anthony Esolen
A Kiss for the Leper firmly established future Nobel Prize-winner François Mauriac as one of the twentieth century’s preeminent novelists. Jean Péloueyre, heir to an extensive estate in southern France, is a maladroit, misshapen, misbegotten young man. The very antithesis of a hero, Jean is very much in need of saving. And yet, as Anthony Esolen writes in his accompanying essay, “The redeemers and the redeemed are not whom we expect.” Against Nietzschean notions of power and sentimental dilutions of Christianity, Mauriac casts Jean and his young bride as cooperators in redemption, leprous, unenlightened souls whose Redeemer bore the punishment that makes them—and us—whole. Like in the novels which would develop his renown, Vipers’ Tangle and A Woman of the Pharisees, Mauriac crafts a story that is visceral, violent, and saturated with the mystery of mercy.
“There are no Masters. We are all of us born slaves and we grow into the freedom of the Lord.”
François Mauriac (1885–1970) was a French, Roman Catholic novelist, poet, critic, and journalist. Critically acclaimed and respected, Mauriac received the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française for his novel The Desert of Love; awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur; and was laureate of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Literature.