Observe that for the novelist who has remained Christian, like myself, man is someone creating himself or destroying himself. He is not an immobile being, fixed, cast in a mold once and for all. This is what makes the traditional psychological novel so different from what I did or thought I was doing. The human being as I conceive him in the novel is a being caught up in the drama of salvation, even if he doesn’t know it.
in 1906 Madame Henriette-Blance Canaby went on trial in France for attempting to poison her husband. Although her husband refused to testify against her, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison for f0rging prescriptions. This case inspired the novel Thérèse Desqueyroux, a novel I read in French at university. It stayed with me for many years afterwards, the harsh scrubby landscape of the French farms around Bordeaux, the heat and storms, the rigidly bourgeois family united in hatred against their son’s wife, the obliviousness of Thérèse who does not know why she tried to kill the husband whom she could not love. A very different psychology from Emma Bovary.