Saturday, June 30, 2012

Faith and Fiction Round Table Discussion: Viper's Tangle by Francois Mauriac

I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book at all and was surprised that I actually found it pretty compulsively readable. The story didn't feel terribly unique to me, though it may have been at the time of publication (I got major Scrooge vibes, lol), but I still felt that novel did a good job of exposing the complexities of the human heart.

Viper's Tangle is primarily concerned with greed and its affect on people, their relationships, their relationship to faith, and the way they see themselves. The main character, Louis, is a man of great wealth, but from an early age this wealth interferes with his ability to truly trust others in relationships. Early on in his marriage, his wife confesses that she had another man interested in her and he LEAPS to the conclusion that she married him only for his money. He blames this one late night conversation for the fact that their entire relationship unraveled.

As a reader, I have to admit I grew realllly frustrated with him. But I guess that shows how well Mauriac told the story through him, we could both fully understand his POV, and also know that it was not accurate.

I thought it was interesting how much this money controlled his life...he could never accept love or form healthy relationships with his children because he lived in constant fear they didn't love him for himself.

To be honest, the kids did seem a bit greedy to me, but I guess we are supposed to partially excuse their behavior because he was so cruel and distant that it was all they had.

Louis also has a somewhat complicated relationship with faith...he seems to know that it's quite artificial for many and he rages over the hypocrisy. But...he seems to really love and respect people who represent a kind of purity or child like faith...Marie, Luc, and the seminarist that lives with them. I thought it was interesting that he intentionally closed himself off to it, when he did have an experience that led him to consider faith, he squashed it down. I mean even after he's like, my heart is a nest of vipers! He later tries to take it back and say all the problems are outside himself, lol.

I did think the ideas about the persistence of hope and how that shapes and changes us were interesting.

I don't have any really brilliant thoughts about the book, but I'd enjoy hearing what you think!!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Envy of those whom one despises is a degrading passion and may well poison a whole life."

"Don't please think that I am painting too pretty a picture of myself. I know my heart--it is a knot of vipers. They have almost squeezed the life out of it. They have beslavered it with their poison, but, underneath their squirming, it still beats."

"There is a fatal tendency in all of us to simplify others, to eliminate in them everything that might soften the indictment, give some human lineaments to the caricature which our hatred craves in order to justify itself..."

What did you think? Please share in comments!


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