In God's image : knowledge of God in the writings of Paul Claudel
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The interpretation of a symbolic universe, redemption, man's vocation, significance of woman, are key themes of drama. Tête d'or written in 1889 at the beginning of Claudel's career, as they are of the exegetical work Paul Claudel interroge l’Apocalypse published three years before his in 1955. Between these two monumental works extends a vast galaxy of literature, philosophy and theology, all concerned to a greater or lesser extent with the same problems. It is a literature based on the best and most varied of Western culture, yet imbued with an Eastern ethos and bearing the imprint of many countries and many minds; a literature in which is found the full spectrum of human knowledge the human condition. An understanding of these themes within the scope of Claudel’s literature is essential for an interpretation of his religious thought. This thesis is concerned with knowledge of God in the writings of Paul Claudel, seen particularly from the point of view of man as an image of God. In this context, what knowledge does man have of God? What are its sources and how is it mediated? The particular aspect of the divine image which it is man’s vocation to realize is indicated by his name. An interpretation of the name therefore, will be an important consideration in this study. Part 1 takes as its central interest, part 2 Mary, and part 3 Christ. The third part also attempts to evaluate the importance of the Pope and the Christological significance of the poetic vocation. Thus each section presents a different basis for the study of man’s knowledge of God, and the movement from man to Mary, and from Mary to God. Interpretation of the Claudelian symbolism will be a basic consideration in this thesis. A simple key to the major symbols is given in the appendix. The thesis is based on three works representative of the scope of Claudel's religious writings at their best. These are the play, L’annonce faite à Marie, the work which Claudel in his eightieth year considered the crowning stone of his dramatic and poetic works; the great autobiographical poem Cing grandes odes which forms a unity with the liturgical Processional pour saluer le siècle nouveau; and Un poete regarde ola croix, an exegetical commentary on the seven words from the cross and the chief of Claudel’s commentaries upon the Passion. As a background to these major texts will be set Le partage de midi, the Otage trilogy, Le soulier de satin, the studies of the apostles and the Old Testament commentaries. All quotations are from the Gallimard Oeuvres completes de Paul Claudel unless otherwise indicated.