A Sermon by Abbé Vignot1

   The Inner Life, in the chapel of the École Fénelon before members of the audience such as M. the Duc de Broglie, M. Paul Desjardins, M. Baignières, M. le Comte d'Haussonville, M. Buffet, Comte de Saussine, M. Lecorbeiller etc. With more strength and flair still than last year M. Vignot embarked upon what remains without [words cut and crossed out, illegible] in a style of sermon that one might describe as the modern sermon even though it rigorously avoids current affairs, as studied by so many preachers. And only the style and ideas are outmoded. In fact these sermons respond, by developing them and by directing them towards the aesthetic, intellectual and moral problems of our time, not without assigning to each its place in a hierarchy where dilettantism has the lowest position and the moral life the highest. So, to reestablish this hierarchy within the spiritual anarchy of today, would it not fulfill the highest and most beneficial religious labour by subordinating on all sides "the beauty of the gesture" to the idea of familial duty, in the state, in morality, in Art. The most difficult artists gather with delight, in Abbé Vignot's sermons, the rare flowers of poetry and subtlety that adorn a Garden of Bérénice.2 But it is not here that the Monastery Garden in which he fosters them and from where he shows them the heavens - and sometimes the earth, in the severe and profound portraits that recall the perfection of the masters [...]

1. In February 1893 Proust accompanied Robert de Flers to one of the sermons given by Abbé Vignot at the École Fénelon every Sunday in Lent. This account may have been intended for Le Banquet but was never published, possibly because Le Banquet last appeared in March 1893. This incomplete fragment is included in NAF 16634.

2. Reference to Le Jardin de Bérénice, Maurice Barrès, 1891.

From Bulletin d'informations proustiennes, no 34, 2004, p15-16 Dix lettres inédites de Marcel Proust retrouvées au Kentucky by Pyra Wise.


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