Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error

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GEORGE BRAZILLER Incorporated, 2008 - History - 410 pages
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With a new introduction by author Le Roy Ladurie, this special paperback edition offers a fascinating history of a fourteenth-century village, Montaillou, in the mountainous region of southern France, almost destroyed by internal feuds and religious heterodoxy. Ladurie's portrait is based on a detailed register of Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers and future Pope Benedict XII, who conducted rigorous inquisition into heresy within his diocese. Fournier was a consummate inquisitor, an acute psychologist who was able to elicit from the accused the innermost secrets of their thoughts and actions. He was pitiless in the pursuit of error, and meticulous in recording that pursuit. Le Roy analyzes the behavior, demography, social mentality, and cosmology of the community of peasants and shepherds, and vividly evokes the daily life of the village and mountain pastures. His portrait of Montaillou is dominated by the personal histories of two men: the cure Pierre Clergue, a brutal and powerful man who placed his enemies in the hands of the inquisitor; and the shepherd Pierre Maury, a friend of the Albigensian perfecti and a fatalist who returned from Spain to disappear in the inquisitor's prison in his own country. Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou, which as received even more praise than his earlier works, follows in the tradition of the Annales school of French histiography, a tradition which also includes Fernand Braudel's widely acclaimed study of the Mediterranean.

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About the author (2008)

Barbara Bray (née Jacobs) was born on November 24, 1924 in Paddington, London. She died on February 25, 2010. Bray was an English translator and critic. She translated the correspondence of Gustave Flaubert, and work by leading French speaking writers of her own time including Marguerite Duras, Amin Maalouf, Julia Kristeva, Michel Quint, Jean Anouilh, Michel Tournier, Jean Genet, Alain Bosquet, Réjean Ducharme and Philippe Sollers. She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1986. She had a personal and professional relationship with the married Samuel Beckett that continued for the rest of his life, and Bray was one of the few people with whom he discussed his work. Bray suffered a stroke at the end of 2003, but despite this disability she continued to write Beckett's memoirs, Let Mortals Rejoice..., which she could not complete. Bray recorded some of her reflections about Beckett in a series of conversations with her friend, Marek Kedzierski, from 2004 to 2009. Excerpts have been published in many languages, but not English as of yet.

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