Faustus: How comes it then that thou art out of hell?
Mephistophilis (in the likeness of a friar): Why this is hell, nor am I out of it….
—Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, Act I, scene iii

“The unconcealed and palpable influence of the devil on an important part of contemporary literature is one of the significant phenomena of the history of our time.” This strange note was written in the early Twenties at the height of the controversy over André Gide’s mounting influence (which would extend from François Mauriac, Jean Cocteau, and Henry de Montherlant to Jean-Paul Sartre and lesser lights). Its author was the neo-Thomist intellectual Jacques Maritain, who had the creator of Les Nourritures terrestres in his sights. The Catholic philosopher went to call on the Protestant-educated Gide to urge him to withhold...


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