Călugărița – un stereotip la modă

Can’t kick the habit: why do so many writers create fictional nuns? by Moira Redmond

And that demonstrates a key feature of convents, fictional or otherwise – they are not actually mysterious hotbeds of unknowable religious transcendence or wickedness. They are communities like any other, with secrets, dramas and troublesome elections. And so, ideal as a vehicle for a good story: any closed community is interesting (see also: country house party, boarding school), there is an opportunity to have good strong female characters without their being framed by their relationships with men, and there is always the underlying question: „Why did these women become nuns?”

Roman Catholic women of a certain age will remember being obsessed as teenagers with Kathryn Hulme’s The Nun’s Story, book and film – „Is God calling me to be Audrey Hepburn?” It’s still a good strong read, and even more fascinating when you know the story behind it. It is a novel, but based on the life of the author’s long-term companion, a former nun.

One aspect of nuns in books is that the names are confusing and you get your Sister Mary mixed up with Sister Maria – and apparently the considerable profits from The Nun’s Story are languishing unclaimed because no one knows which nuns should have inherited them. More straightforwardly non-fiction are books from Karen Armstrong (Through the Narrow Gate) and Monica Baldwin (I Leap Over the Wall – so much the better name) dealing with the challenges of leaving the convent behind in, respectively, 1981 and 1949.

Of course we all like to read about nuns going off the rails: Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus is an overwrought and enjoyable look at a convent in the Himalayas, and a nun who wants a last chance. There is also the very splendid Lambs of God by the Australian author Marele Day, with its feral nuns including sheep in their community. Aldous Huxley‘s The Devils of Loudun (overshadowed now by the 1971 notorious-in-its-day Ken Russell film) is non-fiction, full of hysterical and demonic sisters in 17th-century France. The book very much reflects its author’s non-believing, child-of-the-enlightenment stance, though it’s a rattling good read, and he does his best to be fair.

 

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Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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