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A Cardinal Sin   By: (1804-1857)

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A Cardinal Sin by Eugène Sue is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that delves into the dark secrets and corruption within the Catholic Church. Set in France during the early 19th century, Sue skillfully weaves together a tale filled with intrigue, scandal, and societal commentary.

The story revolves around the character of Rodolphe, a charismatic and enigmatic man who is initially introduced as a successful businessman. However, as the narrative progresses, it becomes apparent that Rodolphe harbors deep-seated resentment towards the Catholic Church. This resentment stems from his tragic past and the injustices he has witnessed, fueling his mission to expose the corruption within the highest ranks of the clergy.

Sue's writing style is immersive and descriptive, successfully transporting the reader to the opulent palaces, grand cathedrals, and dark underground chambers that play host to the characters' encounters. The author's attention to detail, especially in the scenes that illustrate the lavish lifestyles of the clergy, is both captivating and unsettling, highlighting the stark contrast between the decadence of their surroundings and the poverty experienced by the common people.

What sets A Cardinal Sin apart are the complex and morally ambiguous characters. From the manipulative Cardo, a high-ranking cardinal who acts as the primary antagonist, to the conflicted and tormented Father d'Aigrigny, each character is meticulously crafted with their own motivations, flaws, and desires. This multi-dimensional approach adds depth and authenticity to the story, ensuring that readers will become emotionally invested in their fates.

Furthermore, Sue masterfully incorporates social and political commentary within the narrative, shedding light on the consequences of the Catholic Church's influence on society at the time. Through the exploration of themes such as power, privilege, and the suppression of truth, the author challenges the reader to question the moral fabric of the Church and those who uphold its authority.

One aspect of the novel that might deter some readers is its length. A Cardinal Sin is an epic tome, spanning hundreds of pages, which may require a significant time commitment. However, the payoff is well worth it. Sue's intricate plot is laced with unexpected twists and turns, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat until the very last page.

A Cardinal Sin is a compelling and audacious novel that dares to expose the dark underbelly of the Catholic Church. Sue's masterful storytelling, well-rounded characters, and poignant social commentary make this a must-read for those seeking a captivating literary experience. Prepare to be enthralled and challenged by this unforgettable tale of sin and redemption.

First Page:

E text prepared by Al Haines




Translated by Alexina Loranger

Chicago W. B. Conkey Company Copyright, 1892 by Morrill, Higgins & Co. Copyright, 1893 by W. B. Conkey Company



On a beautiful, bright morning of the month of May, 18 , a young girl of eighteen years or thereabouts, whose pale, melancholy face reflected only too plainly the wretchedness and privations of her daily life, was wending her way, timidly and with hesitating steps, through that populous quarter of the city known as the Charnier des Innocents , a dreary spot, principally noted for its large number of public scribes, who make a precarious living by acting as secretaries to the ignorant people of the vicinity.

Two or three times she paused, undecided, before an open door; then, thinking perhaps that the writer was either too young or unprepossessing, she slowly resumed her search. She had reached the last of the row, and was on the point of retracing her steps, when her gaze fell on a venerable old man, whose benign countenance beamed kindly on her from his desk; and without further hesitation she resolutely entered the little shop.

Struck by the touching beauty and modest attitude of the young girl, the scribe greeted her with paternal affability, and discreetly drawing the curtain over the dingy window, motioned her to a seat, while he sank back into his old leather covered arm chair and waited for her to speak... Continue reading book >>

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