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(1890) A novel by Anatole France. Inspired by one of the tales in The Golden Legend, it is an ironic story of Paphnutius, a young Alexandrian debauche turned monk. Leading an ascetic life in the desert, he interprets his voluptuous dreams of the famous courtesan Thais as a call to convert her to Christianity. He succeeds in this aim, and she lives a short but saintly life as a hermit. Paphnutius, however, still dreams of her. In his attempt to hide from himself his lust for her, he mortifies his flesh relentlessly, and even spends some time as a stylite atop a high pillar. Finally he realizes his true feelings and tries to persuade her to flee the convent with him. As she dies, the abbess sends him away, horrified at the savagery that is finally revealed on his face.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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