We Have Been Friends Together and Adventures in Grace

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Translated by Julie Kernan, Edited by Michael S. Sherwin, O.P., Introduction by Anne Carson Daly, 448 pages, 6" x 9", introduction, notes, index

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We Have Been Friends Together and Adventures in Grace


Maritain, Raïssa

Raïssa Maritain (1883–1960), best known as the wife of the famous French philosopher Jacques Maritain, was a remarkable person in her own right. A poet, philosopher, translator, and mystic, she was at the epicenter of French intellectual life in the first half of the twentieth century. Her autobiography, We Have Been Friends Together, together with the second part, Adventures in Grace, were originally published in two volumes in 1941 and 1944. Both books are combined here and are now being re-issued for the first time.

She chronicles not only her and her husband’s lives but also those of their friends—an impressive circle of important French intellectuals, writers, artists, professors, and influential priests. In luminous prose Raïssa recounts her childhood in Russia, her youth in Paris, and her momentous meeting with Jacques, followed by their conversion to Catholicism in 1906. She gives a vivid, personal account of the Thomistic Revival they helped to lead and describes the conversions of key figures in the French Catholic Renaissance—many of whom were the Maritains’ close friends. However, the underlying subjects of her autobiography are God’s goodness, the mysterious operation of grace in the soul, and the way that Raïssa and others were transformed by their encounter with the Divine.

We Have Been Friends Together and Adventures in Grace are spiritual autobiographies written by a mystic with a difference. Raïssa was totally God-focused, but, unlike most mystics, she was not a religious by vocation. She attended the Sorbonne, married, and associated with the intellectual lights of Paris, New York, and Rome. She wrote a book for children, and published poetry, works on prayer, translations, and studies of modern authors. Raïssa also played a key role in the conversion of many and knew, often intimately, intellectuals like Ernest Psichari and Charles Péguy, the playwright Cocteau, the authors Mauriac, Claudel, and Bloy, and a number of painters, including Georges Rouault. Readers interested in spiritual biography, in mystics, in modern women authors, in the psychology of conversion, in twentieth-century French intellectual life, and in the Thomistic revival will find this book fascinating. Raïssa’s autobiography will also hold a special place in the heart of all those who believe, as did her godfather Léon Bloy, “There is only one misery . . . not to be saints.”