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The Diary of a Country Priest

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  961 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Translation of: "Journal d'un cure de campagne"
Paperback, 298 pages
Published February 1st 1984 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1936)
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Dhanaraj Rajan
Spiritual Classic. Catholic Classic. Very Sublime.

Will try to write a lengthy review later.

An Attempt at a Lengthy Review:

I titled it as an attempt, because I am very much certain that I will not be able to express what transpired in me as I read this novel.

I agree with my Goodreads Friend, Cathy in defining this novel as a 'deceptively quiet book' and that seems to be in fact very apt.

On the surface, it looks like
Deceptively quiet book which starts off very slowly; though I knew it had to be going somewhere, it is easy to see why some readers miss its depths—I stopped and started it several times myself. And then...!

The gist of the story is an inexperienced, young priest arrives at his first parish, a little place out in the country and begins to keep a diary. We also learn he is poor, devout, idealistic and ascetic. None of these traits particularly endear him to his parishioners. He seems to have but o
I read this decades ago and found it very moving - despite the fact that I am not (and was not) very religious (to put it mildly). I only post it now because it came up recently in a conversation. I have no idea how it would read for me today, of course - and I have no plans to find out.

There is some discussion, as I recall, of Bernanos (and certainly plenty of discussion of his 'type') in Robert Wohl's important book, The Generation of 1914. Bernanos was a Catholic, but there are existential el
Stephen Durrant
The Parisian Georges Bernanos (1888-1948) is one of the last century's greatest Catholic novelists, and this is probably his most admired book. As the title indicates, this is a fictional "diary" of a young, very ill, priest who is trying manfully to administer well to his small countryside parish. He struggles with faith, the role of suffering, the nature of evil and almost every other major religious topic as he strives to maintain his integrity and faithful stewardship over a very problematic ...more
This sad little book moves at the speed of human breath in repose, then spurred toward the halting gasps of mortal exertion. I can't recall ever reading a more painful, moving depiction of truly humble self-sacrifice than the eponymous priest's in Bernanos's engrossing, masterful clinic in the diaristic form of literature. I first heard of the book in an interview with Marilynne Robinson, in which it was cited (by the interviewer) as an apparent predecessor to Robinson's own brilliant and cleric ...more
Jim B
I am convinced that the translation of this book (translator: Pamela Morris) is a great barrier to the enjoyment of the book. It is apparent that the translator was unable to bring out the flow of the thought because sometimes the wrong word was used. Also, her choice of dialects was terrible (French peasants who speak like Irish or Cockneys!) From what I've read from other readers, the Diary is difficult enough to get through without this poor translation of it. Please, someone, come up with a ...more
I thought this was one of those books that comes with a “guarantee.” But of course no book comes with a blanket guarantee. Still, I’d read only glowing reviews and boy was I ready for a “triumphant experience.” But on p. 26 I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I was really reading about. On p. 54 the voice of the innocent and well-meaning young priest began to irk the shit out of me. On p. 55 I skipped ahead to see if anything would ever actually happen to dilute all the fluffy introspection a ...more
Karna Swanson
I was expecting great things, but I couldn't even get through half of it. Hard to follow, boring, lots of long discourses that didn't have a point. I don't know, didn't get it. I have a copy of it if you'd life to give it a whirl.
I read this while alone in Tokyo in November, 1975. Brrrr. The book sets forth in living black-and-white an aspect of France that many disregard: the terribly self-punishing, rigid, miserable, very November (of one's soul, so to speak) French Catholicism of times not all that very much gone by. I've never got it straight. Is THIS the Jansenist strain, Port-Royal and all that, or the other, more papistical orthodoxy? Shared with all too many Irish. Something severe, drizzling, gray, wintery, abso ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Before his death on April 4th, 1947, Georges Bernanos gave a lecture in Tunisia entitled "Our Friends the Saints" which can teach us to say to the Lord, Lord, your love is infinite; I can't fathom it and it is sufficient for me, to which the Lord might answer us as he answered the mother who lost her little one,{ there is a mother who is hiding her face for the last time against the little heart that no longer throbs, a mother, close to her dead child, offering God the moaning of an exhausted re ...more
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I actually found it incredibly difficult to understand. Some of it, I think, was that it was poorly translated. I read a 1962 edition that doesn't even cite a translator -- so many of the sentences were so convoluted as to be utterly obtuse. Poor translation or witless reader? I never could figure out why Mlle Chantal was such an angry bitch and why she insisted on tormenting the priest. What was her secret? Was the priest an alcoholic or just ...more
i read this a long time ago. though i remember it only dimly, i know that it changed my life, the way some books do. like The Catcher in the Rye. like Almanac of the Dead. like If This Is a Man. like that book by czeslaw milosz in which he riffs on whitman, whose title i cannot remember/find to save my life, and which got dropped to the bottom of the atlantic ocean when i tried to ship my books across continents in a box that was way too slight to hold so much weight. there are good books somewh ...more
Mark miller
Reader Response Paper-writing
The Diary of a Country Priest

I just finished the novel so you will have to excuse me of my immediate sadness and sorrow for a man so beautiful and full of life. I could not bear to feel him die. Yes, feel. I felt as though I was with him in all his time of turmoil, agony, and internal suffering. I understand the meaning of Grace now, or at least I think I do. He meant that no matter what evil or hatred has been or is bestowed upon you that it does
Nov 10, 2008 Ignacio rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ignacio by: Ignacio

La impotencia de un hombre humilde ante Dios y la humanidad, aunque esa humanidad sea tan sólo un remoto pueblo del norte de Francia y ese hombre sea un sacerdote.
La gracia recibida hace de su tarea una obra de proporciones titánicas en manos de un hombre tímido, reservado y enfermo. A su lado Dios, la Iglesia, representada por la figura amable e íntegra del cura de Torcy, y la conciencia de su misión. Frente a él, un mundo mezquino, simple y vulgar, lleno del dolor sordo de los hábi
Douglas Dalrymple
“If ever you glimpse the passing truth, take a good look at her, so as to be quite sure you’ll know her again; but don’t expect her to make eyes at you. Gospel truth makes eyes at nobody.”

I wonder if Shusaku Endo read this book before writing Silence. Both Bernanos and Endo certainly read their St John of the Cross.

Years ago my wife and I watched the Robert Bresson film based on this novel. It made an impression, but a mixed one. As portrayed in the movie, the country priest was too pitiful; his
A beautiful book that captures the trials and joys of a young priest in France in the first part of the 20th Century. The book kept me engrossed, but I must say that I felt as if I was reading it through a cloudy set of glasses. I'd be hard pressed to relate all that happens to the unnamed (I think) priest. I have a hunch that the English translation (there seems to be only one) is not that great. Still I highly recommend this novel.
Glen Grunau
This was a difficult book to penetrate, particularly in the early stages. Yet there were times that it became gripping, difficult to set aside. I have always been drawn to diaries - first of all my own, which occupies me daily (almost). In our diaries we come face-to-face with ourselves, in all of our glory and our shame. What is unique about this diary is that the priest who authors it is given to such rare and brutal self-honesty. He reveals an intensity of introspection that is frequently gro ...more
Read this book at a life-changing course taught by Robert Coles in College. Everytime I read this book or see the film version I am moved to think about the meaning of life/friendships/devotion, etc.
Very French, in that thoughtful way in which a lot happens without much outward movement. Moved me greatly in ways hard to describe, since I'm not a writer like Bernanos (or any other author).
Like many diaries, this novel at first comes across as drifting in focus, centered on the mundane interactions with the priest's flock, fellow churchmen and suppliers of his wine and food. Bernanos is acutely aware of the jockeying within a parish: the importance of the priest's image among the churchgoers and among the Catholic hierarchy, and, most vividly, his relationship with the troubled family of the local nobility. The debates on faith and its nuances seem to last forever and turn on poin ...more
One of the most difficult tasks for any writer is to make a convincing portrayal of a truly good character. This was Dostoevasky's task when he wrote The Idiot, and it is Beranos's task in The Diary of a Country Priest. He succeeds beautifully.

The first person/diary approach to the narrative makes for an especially useful dramatic device, leaving a steady stream of self-doubt on the page from the lonely and inexperienced priest. That allows Beranos to develop the tension he needs around the char
A record of, in some ways, the seeming futility and tedium of pastoral care and Christian leadership. At one point in the novel, the priest comments that his various battles spiritually and pastorally are a war of attrition - it's hard not to feel as though this book is itself a war of attrition for the reader given the length and oblique nature of some of the dialogues and monologues (and it is primarily a series of reserved monologues and dialogues). There are some striking philosophical zinge ...more
Joy H.
Added 2/6/13.
I am about to watch the film adaptation of this book.
One of the reviewers at Netflix called it: "tedious, incomprehensible prattle".
I hope not!

Edit 2/8/13: I watched the movie. I, too, found much of the movie "incomprehensible". There's a lot of religious talk about faith and God, etc., which often seemed too ambiguous to follow.

The priest is always gloomy. He's sick and his parish doesn't accept him. He tries to help people but seems ineffectual.

Anna Prejanò
La lettura in sequenza di “Sotto il sole di Satana” e “Diario di un curato di campagna” è un’esperienza talmente piena e appagante che la spiacevolezza delle antiquate traduzioni italiane (soprattutto del primo) passa in secondo piano. Tra i due romanzi, speculari e gemelli, c’è un rapporto analogo a quello tra una foto e il suo negativo. La luce manca del tutto in quello con il sole nel titolo. Tanto il primo romanzo è disperato, ambiguo, opprimente quanto il secondo trasmette serenità, compren ...more
Seth Holler
This book is most remarkable. In Marilynne Robinson's GILEAD (2005), to which it has been compared, the psychological drama is mostly displaced and off-stage; we get hints of the narrator's moral and spiritual growth. In THE DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST, by contrast, the first-person accounts vividly reproduce what happened off-stage, so that one feels the writer's often painful growth. While the two novels are similar in form, the reading experience is quite different.

I was moved by the narrator's
Eugene Peterson recommended this book as a way to steep oneself in the pastoral literature. That is where I first heard of it and why I picked it up. It was well worth the read.

A moving, Catholic novel by Bernanos, it is the diary of a 30-year old parish priest in a small country town. The diary records his wrestling with his own insignificance, his cowardice, and the interactions with the parishioners who are continually accusing him. On top of all this, he has an illness that is always wearin
Let me describe myself, so you understand where I'm coming from. I'm 62 years old. Pre-Vatican American Catholic. Altarboy saying the Mass in Latin way back when in the '60's. Since then, something of a tough guy. Military vet. Trial Lawyer. Sinner. Left the Church for personal reasons.

I imagine that this book will have little appeal for most of my non-Christian friends, and even my Protestant friends, who simply don't "get" Catholic religiosity.

However, for you present or fallen away Catholic
I found myself skimming the long tedious monologues through this book, which got me to the end quicker, but didn't give me the full picture of the book. At first I found myself interested in the main character's life, but as it took quite a while for the crux of the story to show itself (some could argue that the crux doesn't really show itself until the very end of the book...), I lost interest and could not immerse myself in the story. A good idea that has been used much more often in recent f ...more
Very good book. This is apparently a fairly classic Catholic work from the early 1900s and it is easy to see why. It really goes into the struggles of ordinary life and how Christianity is supposed to influence it, and the struggle between that and apathy and suffering etc. It is not easy to read... it seems like every line is loaded with (good or bad) ideas which ought to be considered, and it is written as if by a priest that came from a poor family as his personal diary, so he is the narrator ...more
Nov 15, 2012 E. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
This book is amazing. The Little Priest in this book is now a friend close and dear to my heart. Reading this was a religious experience, and spiritually edifying.

"How little we know what a human life really is--even our own. To judge us by what we call our actions is probably futile as to judge us by our dreams. God's justice chooses from this dark conglomeration of thought and act, and that which is raised towards the Father shines with a sudden burst of light, displayed in glory like the sun
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Georges Bernanos était un écrivain français, gagneur du Grand Prix du Roman de l'Académie française en 1936 avec Journal d'un curé de campagne.

George Bernanos was a French writer. His 1936 book, Journal d'un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest), won the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française.
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“God! how is it that we fail to recognize that the mask of pleasure, stripped of all hypocrisy, is that of anguish?” 12 likes
“It is one of the most mysterious penalties of men that they should be forced to confide the most precious of their possessions to things so unstable and ever changing, alas, as words.” 9 likes
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