Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Free Mind: Brede, No Treacle: St. Therese and Rumer Godden

Cutting through the "treacle" of St. Therese brings forth the strong personality and deep faith of a woman willing to embrace the challenge of a Carmelite cloister. And we know how challenging that could be thanks to a Rumer Godden classic novel.
What broke open connecting with St. Therese for me? A good translation and a second book: my latest column at Patheos.

Treacle = British for molasses (sort of)

Wikipedia sez: The most common forms of treacle are the pale syrup that is also known as golden syrup and the darker syrup that is usually referred to as dark treacle or black treacle. Dark treacle has a distinctively strong flavour, slightly bitter, and a richer colour than golden syrup,[3] yet not as dark as molasses


  1. Tante Léonie3/31/11, 11:10 AM

    Great review and an inspiring connection with Brede.

    I was particularly struck with this:
    "It has become fashionable to discount St. Thérèse's spiritual struggles by filtering them through modern perspectives. Biographers look at the girl whose mother died when she was very small, at her "abandonment" by her older sisters as they one by one entered the convent, at her early entry into the cloister. They speak of neuroses and a stifled personality by living in the unrealistic atmosphere of the convent."

    The wonder of Therese is, that having lived in such a hot-house environment, she in fact, is *not* neurotic. Her solidity, sense and maturity are enviable. By rights, she should have turned out to have a narcissistic, histrionic or a borderline personality disorder.

    She's one tough broad and I'm glad this new translation is doing her justice.

  2. Yes, that is what hit me. And I must thank you for pointing out, when I began reading The Story of a Soul, that Therese has that solid core. I knew what to keep my eyes open for. :-)

  3. Tante Léonie3/31/11, 11:18 AM

    Glad you were able to give Therese a second look.

    By the way, how is the person in your book club doing with her? I think you mentioned that someone was having a hard time getting to know Therese. Has this new translation made a difference for her?

  4. She didn't actually use this particular translation but she did have a newer one. Funny thing is that she and I had the most trepidation and we were the ones who were completely won over after reading. I know that we both were asking Therese to show us what was there that mattered. I give equal credit to translators and Therese in our cases! :-)

  5. As a total guy-guy who prefers plain food to cuisine and who owns a riding lawn mower (actually, I do the riding), I confess to a great fondness for St. Therese, and am man enough not to feel threatened by treacle...whatever treacle is...

  6. HA ... riding lawn mower. :-D

    Treacle ... think molasses.