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By François Mauriac
With the publication of the novel Le baiser au lepreux (A Kiss for the Leper) in 1922, François Mauriac was hailed as a luminary in fiction. Genetrix, published the following year, demonstrated that this newly achieved stardom was more than deserved. The protagonist of Genetrix is Félicité Cazenave, the epitome of an overprotective, infantilizing mother, treating her fifty-year-old son Fernand as a weak and doltish child. When Fernand marries their young neighbor, Mathilde Coustous, Félicité is consumed with jealousy, swearing never to release her son.
He knew no greater happiness than to make his mother suffer.
Rendering beauty into bitterness, Mauriac shows the decay of love between mother and son as they madly, almost blindly, embrace the onrushing prospect of damnation.
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; was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur; and named laureate of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Literature.