- Charles Journet and Jacques Maritain: Correspondance ed. by Mgr. Pierre Mamie, George Cottier, O.P. (review)
- The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 64, Number 1, January 2000
- pp. 131-136
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS CharlesJournet andJacques Maritain: Correspondance. 3 vols. Edited by MGR. PIERRE MAMIE and GEORGE COTTIER, 0.P. Vol. 1: 1920-1929. Fribourg: Editions Universitaires; Paris: EditionsSt. Paul, 1996. Pp. 827. SF 110. ISBN 2827106833. Vol. 2: 1930-1939. Fribourg: Editions Universitaires; Paris: Editions St. Paul, 1997. Pp. 1001. SF 130. ISBN 2827107651. Vol. 3: 1940-1949. Fribourg: Editions Saint-Augustin, 1998. Pp. 969. SF 100. ISBN 2880111374. Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) hardly requires introduction to the readers of The Thomist. Charles Journet (1891-1975), by contrast, has remained relatively unknown outside of the French-speaking world. Professor of dogmatic theology at the diocesan seminary in Fribourg, Switzerland, for his entire teaching career, and the author of numerous works in theology, most notably L'Eglise du Verbe incarnee (3 vols.: 1941, 1951, 1969), Journet attracted attention in 1965 when Pope Paul VI appointed him to the College of Cardinals. For some fifty years, from 1920 until Maritain's death in 1973, MaritainandJournet maintaineda regular correspondence, uninterrupted even by their separation on two continents duringWorldWar II. Prepared under the editorial direction of Georges Cottier, 0.P., and Bishop Pierre Mamie, the Correspondance will eventually total six volumes, containing virtually all ofthe letters exchanged between the two friends. The volumes include explanatory footnotes (identifying persons, publications, and events little remembered today), short essays (on topics such as the religious climate in Geneva during the 1920s), appendices (usually composed of texts the authors had included in their correspondence), biographical summaries, chronologies, and indices: in all, an impressive undertaking. Initiated by Journet, who wrote Maritain to express his admiration for the philosopher's then-newly published Introduction generate ala philosophie, the correspondence between the two men would serve as the principal vehicle for a remarkably close friendship. The first three volumes of the Correspondance take us across a widely diverse historical terrain: the inception of the Thomistic renaissance in the early 1920s, the condemnation of Action fran~ise in 1926, the Spanish Civil War, the defeat of France in World War II, De Gaulle and the Resistance, censorship in war-time Switzerland, the Vatican of Pope Pius XII, and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. 131 132 BOOK REVIEWS At the time of their first exchange of letters, Maritain was a rising star on the French Catholic intellectual scene, with several books already to his credit, includingArt et scholastique andLa philosophie bergsonienne. Journet was then a parish priest in Geneva, whose first book, L'Esprit du protestantisme en Suisse, would not appear until 1925. The family backgrounds and intellectual milieus of the two men could not have been more different. A member of the Parisian liberal elite by right of birth (grandson of the Protestant Jules Favre, a leading politician of the Third Republic), educated at the Sorbonne, student of Henri Bergson, and friend of Charles Peguy, Leon Bloy, Georges Rouault, and Jean Cocteau, Maritain-a Catholic convert-circulated freely within French intellectual and artistic circles. By contrast, Journet-a cradle Catholic born to a family of petits commercants and educated in the seminary-found himself a foreigner to the mainstream cultural life of his native Geneva, then a bastion of Protestant thought, religious practice, and political governance. What drew the two men together was their shared conviction that a return to Thomas Aquinas's philosophical and theological thought could provide the basis for a renewal of spiritual life within the Church, as well as foster interaction between the Catholic tradition and the intellectual currents of modernity. To this end, Maritain and his wife Raissa would found the Cercles thomistes in 1922, an initiative thatJournet welcomed and to which he lent his enthusiastic support over the ensuing years. The aim was to establish groups of Catholic intellectuals whose common reference to Thomas Aquinas would furnish a supportive context for dialogue on (and with) the contemporary culture. Given the insularity of Catholic intellectual life during this period-laicization had pushed it to the margins of public debate on major issues-the project of adopting a stance of active engagement vis-a-vis modernity represented a considerable departure from conventional practice. Despite this new attitude of openness, Maritain's writings from the period often betray...