Item description for Vipers' Tangle (The Loyola Classics Series) by Francois Mauriac & Robert Coles...
Overview One of the greatest Catholic novels of the 20th-century tells the story of Louis, an elderly man filled with bitterness who keeps a journal in which he records the vipers' tangle of his own heart. With subtlety and wisdom, Mauriac traces the transformation of this tortured soul by the light of God's grace.
Publishers Description "Mauriac's best novel."--"Catholic World ""A lucid and penetrating study . . . Mauriac proves himself as good a storyteller as he is a psychologist."--"The New York Times ""A most admirable and exciting novel."--"New Statesman"The masterpiece of one of the twentieth century's greatest Catholic writers, "Vipers' Tan"gle tells the story of Monsieur Louis, an embittered aging lawyer who has spread his misery to his entire estranged family. Louis writes a journal to explain to them--and to himself--why his soul has been deformed, why his heart seems like a foul nest of twisted serpents. Mauriac's novel masterfully explores the corruption caused by pride, avarice, and hatred, and its opposite--the divine grace that remains available to each of us until the very moment of our deaths. It is the unforgettable tale of the battle for one man's soul.
Citations And Professional Reviews Vipers' Tangle (The Loyola Classics Series) by Francois Mauriac & Robert Coles has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 09/01/2005 page 194
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Studio: Loyola Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5" Height: 6.75" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2005
Publisher Loyola Press
Series Loyola Classics
ISBN 0829422110 ISBN13 9780829422115
Availability 0 units.
More About Francois Mauriac & Robert Coles
Francois Mauriac was one of the great Catholic novelists of the 20th century. Raymond N. MacKenzie is professor of English at the University of St. Thomas."
Francois Mauriac was born in 1885 and died in 1970.
Reviews - What do customers think about Vipers' Tangle (The Loyola Classics Series)?
A Christian novel unafraid of psychological realism Apr 13, 2008
I am surprised that one of the reviews (referring to the AudioBook version) calls this novel sermonizing. I have read many of the Loyola classics, and I appreciate most of them as pleasantly innocuous novels with Christian themes, but of all that I have read so far, I find Viper's Tangle the most literary and the least didactic. It is also one of the most uncontrived conversion stories that I have ever read.
The protagonist of the story, a miserly old man close to death, tells of his bitterness towards his family and the world with great psychological acumen. He explains to the reader exactly how his hypocritical bourgeouis family has led him to go to great lengths in plotting to disinherit them. He despises his wife's Catholicism, and he offers an incredibly disturbing because realistic portrait of her narrow-mindedness, her failures of charity, even as he freely confesses his own wretched flaws.
What is extraordinary about the story is that his turn of heart begins to occur not as the result of an intervention by some saintly Christian character who shows him the "real meaning of faith." Small, chance discoveries occur that allow the protagonist to see his wife in a new light and allow him to realize that though she and her faith were indeed imperfect, like himself, she too hid complexities and anxieties within her. The religion that he held in contempt because it seemed so false and shallow begins to seem genuine as he gains a better picture of the role it played in her inner life, that he was too self-absorbed to see in the years she was alive.
I appreciate this book for its honest portrayal of imperfectly led Christian lives, and the (not-sermonizing) message that the individual members of the church can be both saint and sinner. To acknowledge this, even to be laid psychologically bare, with all one's faults, before a non-believer, does not discredit Christ but is evidence of his mercy.
My review may make this book sound explicitly theological, but Mauriac does not beat the reader over the head with theology. The real strength of this book is its exquisite prose and psychological realism. So many modern novels have unabashedly delved into the rottenness of the human soul, but this book gives voice to the great Hope that is Christianity, that rottenness, in all its forms and stages, does not preclude redeemability.
Great Book Mar 29, 2008
"Viper's Tangle" is on the short list of best Catholic novels ever written -- and it may indeed be the best. This is a penetrating study of one man's dark character -- and how grace finally penetrates and transforms him. It's a powerful work, that left a very deep impression on me. In short, a great book.
A razor-cutting literary analysis that gets to the heart of the matter. Oct 5, 2006
The day-to-day struggles of human existence are quite difficult for many people, and for others, they are a marvelling pleasure, and why is that? What sets one group of humanity apart from the other whereby their only connection is the gossamer thread of humanism? It is faith in Jesus Christ and how that faith is utilized in the molding and or sculpting of humanism to hopeful, healthy perfection. Yet, too, what are the molding tools that are used in the vast dichotomy of that living? The universal tool is love and sacrifice, and that is a no-holds-bar truth which is ardently championed by the Holy Catholic Church. But there are many impediments and or blockages of our own making, because we either fail or simply choose not to see the universality of that global truth, for in the acknowledging of that, it means giving up an element of one's vital self to it, and that is where we are constantly at odds; it is frightening; it requires too much; it is overwhelming; it is too good to be true, et cetera, et cetera. Sometimes we learn that lesson early in life, and sometimes we learn in the very end. It does not matter at what age one accepts that truth, as long as one does, and in the novel Viber's Tangle, the character Louis accepts it before he meets his Father, a gift from the Mysterious, a humble yet grateful yes in return. There are so many stumbling blocks that prevent people from being genuine religious carriers of faith, and for Monsieur Louis, it is greed and the evolution of it from being one of a good, practical necessity into a self-serving tactical weapon by which to negatively dominate over the lives of others; he could not see beyond his own creation and perception-the viper's tangle that surrounded his heart and soul-skewering the reality of the more careful loving domination that had easy attention on him all the while but which he chose to coldly mock and ignore, and as such, his evolvement through career and family was nothing more but an appendage to a miserable life of his own free will and making. And Love, who is Christ Jesus, is not a word or simply an experience. He is a fact. And Louis's conversion to that truth where he sees that the Word and the Man are not separated but are in actuality one-in-the-same, is a moving reading experience. In the excellent introduction by Robert Coles, he makes mention that the author wanted the reader to feel pity and be moved by the character's predicament, which is not so easy, because his deplorableness is easier to latch on to. Francois Mauriac makes it very easy for his literary creation to be despised. But upon reading the concise language and deft plotting, there is an evolution that takes place from dislike, to pity, to hope, to change, to cheering, to Love. And in the end, is that not all to whom we desire to return to?
memorable, if rare, work Apr 8, 2000
I read Viper's Tangle (I believe my translation was "Nest of Vipers") in high school and became fascinated with Francois Mauriac. I went on to read some of his other works, including "The Desert of Love." This work is psychological and personal in nature. If you enjoy stories which probe characters' minds, this is an excellent choice. An invalid man lies in bed, dying, remembering his life and coming to terms with it, and himself. An unknown classic. Also great if you like to collect obscure literature!
A Lost Masterpiece Apr 6, 2000
Few Americans realize that Mauriac was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, or that in his time he was considered to be one of France's greatest men of letters. "Catholic" writers have not been in vogue for some time, and in many of Mauriac's other works, the characters struggle with moral dilemmas that would be considered quaint and old-fashioned by many modern readers. The Viper's Tangle, however, reveals a dying patriarch's attempt to come to terms with alienation from his family and his consuming personal greed, issues that are more universal in scope. The moribund Louis leaves as an inheritance for his forbears not the vast fortunes they expect, but his "meditations" upon his life and the lives of his family. As death and the end of the account approach, Louis undergoes a moral and spiritual transformation, deftly and subtley handled by Mauriac. The crystalline writing survives translation well, and the reader is rewarded with a detailed picture of bourgeois life in 19th century France as well as a stunning psychological portrayal of a fascinating individual.