Books: Piety & Cruelty

WOMAN OF THE PHARISEES (241 pp.)—Francois Mauriac, translated by Gerard Hopkins—Henry Holt ($2.50).

This French novel, economical, quiet and painful in its insights, concerns the old Catholic bourgeois society of France before World War I. The central figure in the story is Brigitte Pian, a woman whose intense religious life is a mask for her pride and will to dominate others. The scruples with which she torments those dependent on her may seem fantastic to casual readers, but they are logical consequences of a false and formal Christianity.

Stern Brigitte cannot abide love in others....

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