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The Devil and Pierre Gernet: Stories Paperback – February 22, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802817688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802817686
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,031,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Bentley Hart is the author of several books, including In the Aftermath: Provocations and Laments and The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth. He lives in Providence, RI.

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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Duffy on March 16, 2012
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I believe C.S. Lewis once defended his turn to fiction by noting that fiction is a much more compelling and subversive means by which to affect and influence an audience's thinking, as opposed to overt theological reflection. David Bentley Hart seems to be taking a similar tack.

As an avid fan of Hart's non-fiction work, I was extremely curious how his foray into fiction would turn out. Based on some of his imaginative and creative essays at First Things, along with the ingenuity as a wordsmith on display in his theological writing and other works, I was expecting great things and wasn't disappointed.

The titular novella is the piece in this volume that is the most quintessentially Hartian, I would say. Employing heavy chunks of dialogue -- as he does through much of this collection, but especially here -- Hart cleverly places concepts, intentions and values in the mouth of his devil which he finds to be in some manner distasteful or false, but which can nonetheless be defended eloquently and rationally. Hart's prose is often opulent, but it was particularly florid and decadent in this piece, serving to accentuate the fantastic conceit of having a devil as long-time friend, as well as all the trappings of high culture. Along with Hart's devil, the character of Pierre Gernet is also highly memorable because of the vivid portrayal of his pure soul, his tragic end, and the supernatural significance of the events surrounding it.

'The House of Apollo' is another fascinating tale that features Julian the Apostate as a central character. The piece depicts Julian's impotent attempts to restore the pagan gods of antiquity to their former glory, after "the Galileans" and their God had already driven them out and displaced them.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wyman Richardson on February 18, 2013
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When I first heard that the inimitable David Bentley Hart was publishing a collection of short stories I was almost as excited as when I heard that Hart is publishing a (still forthcoming) translation of the New Testament. Hart is a Greek Orthodox theologian and classicist. He authored the staggering book, Atheist Delusions, a few years back, for which he won the Michael Ramsey Prize. He is also a frequent contributor to First Things, where he is currently authoring the concluding article for each issue. Furthermore, his The Doors of the Sea is one of the more erudite and provocative takes on theodicy that I have ever seen.

Hart is an intellectual who writes theology and history and observations with a certain literary flourish that stops just short of being pretentious but just after the point of establishing his brilliance as a thinker and writer. He is a wordsmith with a keen sense of insight and perception. I almost never read him when I don't come away bettered by the experience.

The thought of DBH writing fiction seemed only natural to me when I first heard of it, and it was with bated breath that Mrs. Richardson and I dove into the collection which we finished just a couple of days ago. The Devil and Pierre Gernet is vintage Hart: lush and occasionally recondite writing that never leads the reader so far afield that they cannot see at least the shadows of the intended gist. I kept thinking of Umberto Eco while reading Hart's fiction, an analogy that he perhaps would not appreciate given his recent piece on Eco, self-explanatorily entitled "The Inertia of Reputation.
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By Padre on May 24, 2014
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Hart goes fictional, with a first piece (title of book) that echoes Lewis' Screwtape, but goes a fresh direction. He's a treat.
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Logan on March 9, 2012
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This collection of stories by one of America's finest writers, David Bentley Hart, is a splendid, rhythmic whirlwind of mellifluously sculptured prose. The stories are both pensively philosophical and light-hearted in the same stroke; that is, they are jeux d'esprit without the marionette odor that so often characterizes displays of brilliant wit. All the stories have a somewhat phantasmagorical comportment to reality in them, a dazzlingly metaphysical splendor and melancholic haunt that evokes faint memories of ancient winds still blowing (however nimbly) behind the modern mind.

The first story is a wonderful novella -- The Devil and Pierre Gernet -- which is then followed by four shorter stories that all seem to be somewhat related (even if only in spirit), albeit in a particularly strange sort of way. The 'devil' in the novella, it should be noted, is not 'the' devil, but only 'a' devil. This is very important, since a novella about 'the' devil could scarcely be more literarily intriguing than a novella on coprophagia. Anyway, this story isn't really even about a devil, but about the much more interesting Pierre Gernet...whose pleasurable acquaintance I'll leave to the reader; there being, of course, no reason for me to butt in.

But the question will inevitably arise: What are the stories about?

Well, I guess, if one was absolutely forced at gunpoint to give a 'theme' to this collection, I would say it's about 'time and eternity'. Yes, I just induced you with pre-reading boredom and malaise. But not really... because those are only the grown-up words (that is, time and eternity) that have lost their allure in modern consciousness; in other words, they used to mean something much more metaphysical -- something like the wind.
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