Al'-Faradzh Elizaveta

Existence in the World and Loneliness in the Writings of Antoine Arnaud

Al'-Faradzh Elizaveta (2014) "Existence in the World and Loneliness in the Writings of Antoine Arnaud ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia, 2014, vol. 52, pp. 101-114 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI201452.101-114


The author studies the phenomenon of loneliness as it is explored in the spiritual literature of the seventeenth century, particularly in the correspondence of the noted French theologian Antoine Arnaud, an adept of the convent of Port-Royal. According to Arnaud, the world is poison, and he who dwells within it is assailed constantly by manifold temptations. A truly authentic and pious life involves a retreat from the world, which does not necessarily imply a religious vocation but at least the refusal to be guided by the laws of this world since the world is a slave to the desires of the fl esh and man is corrupted by his own concupiscence, a result of original sin. Arnaud writes not only of the necessity to renounce the world but also the need to deny one’s own nature and its sinful tendencies. The world becomes a battlefield on behalf of truth and the Christian must save truth from being off ended. For Arnaud, life in reclusion from the world remains an ideal, but he is also sympathetic to a more secular life-style. He draws the analogy between the life of a nun and that of a pious married lay-woman. This demonstrates that he does not exclude the possibility of salvation even for those who virtuously live their lives in the world. He becomes still less rigid during the 1680’s, when, in one of his letters, he embarks on a veritable apology for contemporary social structures and the use of luxuries which he sees as a sign and even evidence of the will of God. Such inconsistencies in the thought of Arnaud may be explained by the fact that the author’s primary source is a series of letters which still need to be examined in full and each of which represents a particular and precise moment in the thought of Arnaud, which necessarily varied throughout his literary life.


Port-Royal, theology, early modern period, life in reclusion, religious anthropology, Counter-Reformation, correspondence, Post-Tridentine Roman Catholicism, quotidian piety


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Al'-Faradzh Elizaveta