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Professor Bernard Doering's translation of Maritain biography wins awards

Author: Arts and Letters


“Jacques and Rassa Maritain: Beggars for Heaven,” a biography by Jean-Luc Barr, translated by Bernard E. Doering, professor emeritus of Romance languages and literatures at the University of Notre Dame, and published by University of Notre Dame Press, has won two recent honors from the Catholic Press Association and the Association of American University Presses.

Jacques Maritain, born in 1882 to a French Protestant family, met Rassa Oumansouff when they were both university students in Paris. Their subsequent love affair was sufficiently complex to include a mutual suicide pact revocable only on condition of their discovery of the meaning of human life and existence. Providentially, the revocation was delivered through their attendance at the lectures of the French philosopher Henri Bergson, and the influence of their friendship with Lon Bloy, the novelist who famously said, “there is only one sadness in life: Not to be a saint.” They married in 1904 and were received into the Catholic Church in 1906.

Maritain, who described his wife as “dimidium animae meae” (“half my soul”), went on to become one of the most influential Catholic philosophers of modern times, exemplifying the interweaving of religious belief and contemporary intellectual and political culture. During the 1940s and 1950s he was a frequent visitor and lecturer at Notre Dame.

Doering, a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1965, also is the author of another book about Maritain, “Jacques Maritain and the French Catholic Intellectuals,” and editor of “The Philosopher and the Provocateur: The Correspondence of Jacques Maritain and Saul Alinski.” In addition to translations of numerous articles and books byand about the Maritains, he has published articles in The Review of Politics, Commonweal, The New Oxford Review, Theological Studies and Communio, among other journals.

Contact: Bernard Doering at 574-631-5191 or

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on January 19, 2007.