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Cover for Raissa Maritain

Raissa Maritain

Pilgrim, Poet, Exile

Judith Suther


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The uncommon life of Raissa Oumansov Maritain provides the framework for this first booklength study of her writing and experience as a Catholic contemplative in the world. Focusing on the development of Raissa's spiritual life in relation to her achievement as a writer, Professor Judith Suther follows Raissa and her husband Jacques from Paris at the turn of the century to Princeton, where they lived from 1940 until Raissa's death in 1960. Divided into three parts, Raissa Maritain opens with the necessary background to an understanding of Raissa's later life and work, then moves on to Part II to a discussion of her contributions to the so-called Catholic Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s; her tireless repudiation of the positivism she and Jacques had encountered as students at the Sorbonne; her part in establishing the Thomist study groups which the Maritains hosted at Versailles and Meudon; and the largely private developments of her writing in prose and poetry. Part Three traces the Maritains' expatriation in New York, Rome, and Princeton, and examines Raissa's most fruitful years as a writer. Throughout, Professor Suther draws on previously unmined resources to clarify certain problems that have long confused, troubled, and even embarrassed friends and admirers of the Maritains. These problems include the relations of Raissa and Jacques with her parents and his mother, their vows of chastity and their marriage blanc, Jacques' acquiescence in her alleged hypochondria, and the authenticity of her apparent mystical experiences.

Fordham University Press, 9780823212316, 216pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 1990

About the Author

Judith D. Suther, Professor of French at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has written extensively on Raissa Maritain as well as on Barrault, Butor, Camus, Claudel, Dante, Ionesco, Marguerite of Navarre, Merton, Moliere, and Racine.