London: Geoffrey Bles / The Centenary Press, 1939. First edition. Octavo, original maroon cloth, printed paper label, uncut original dust jacket. Mild tanning to blank flyleaves. Fine. Item #1066
"MEN VIE WITH EACH OTHER TO HOUND FROM THIS UNHAPPY PLANET GOD'S SANCTITY, BLASPHEMED BY SOME, PROFANED BY OTHERS" First book edition of Jacques Maritain's essay on the ancient scourge of Anti-Semitism—published on the eve of the Second World War. Under the influence of Charles Péguy, Henri Bergson and Leon Bloy, Maritain together with his wife Raissa, converted to Catholicism in 1906. "When Maritain converted to Catholicism, he brought a living link with France's secular and non-Catholic achievements to his work that enriched its connections to the modern world in multiple ways" (Robert Royal, A Deeper Vision). Originally delivered as lectures in Paris (February 1938) and again New York (December 1938), when Anti-Semitism was on the verge of engulfing Europe in genocide. Maritain left France in January 1940 to fulfil his academic obligations in America, teaching a course at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies and lecturing at colleges and universities. Germany's swift springtime victory on the Western Front led to the surrender and occupation of France in June. For Maritain, returning to his homeland was no longer possible. He was therefore, in effect, exiled from his native France. This essay is emblematic of Maritain's broad philosophical appeal in representing the Catholic intellectual tradition in America's secular intellectual life. "Maritain was the premier writer, teacher, and exemplar of the Roman Catholic tradition—not just in philosophy but in aesthetics, literary criticism, and, if not to lesser degree, political theory—for American Catholicism in the 1950's" (Kevin Starr, The Lost World). With a brief Foreword ("Paris, April 5, 1939") and prefaced with an equally brief note outlining the themes of the essay, divided into three sections: I. Specific Aspects of the Problem, II. The Divine Significance of the Dispersion of Israel, III. The Present Tragedy of the Jewish People. Royal. A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual in the Twentieth Century. Starr. The Lost World: American Catholic Non-Fiction at Midcentury.