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The Devil and Pierre Gernet: Stories Paperback – February 28, 2012
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“Excellent collection of short stories. . . . This is a beautiful book.”
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
But with those complaints aside, there was much beauty, emotion and depth within these pages. The "A Voice from the Emerald World" completely wrecked me, when I finished my cheeks were wet with tears and I walked through my house in a daze. "The Ivory Gate" actually resulted in the following nights being filled with dreams more vivid and rich. Every story Hart wrote stirred within me the desire to write something myself.
This is just fun reading. While it's fundamentally different from all his other great stuff, it still has his distinct fingerprints all over it. If you like David Bentley Hart, you'll enjoy The Devil and Pierre Gernet. And, if you're like me, you'll need a few readings to begin to dig beneath the surface.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found these stories fascinating, in particular "The Devil and Pierre Gernet". Highly recommended.Published 15 months ago by M. Arst
Great book! A bit esoteric and confusing sometimes but ultimately leaves you wanting more! The last story was my personal fav!Published 16 months ago by Daniel Anya
Hart goes fictional, with a first piece (title of book) that echoes Lewis' Screwtape, but goes a fresh direction. He's a treat.Published on May 24, 2014 by Padre
David Hart is fantastic at weaving descriptions and dialogue simultaneously throughout the stories. I found the stories enchanting and enjoyable.Published on June 15, 2013 by D. Hodges