Catholic Novel (cont.)


Catholic Novel (cont.)
A couple of people have commented on the question of the Catholic Novel. And we make some headway. Let's start with Dylan's question:

"One might ask, Why categorize? Why impose a denominational test?"

Indeed, we might ask the question, but it seems that scholars and critics from ages past (when they were still working with the writing at hand, rather than inventing something to write about and then writing about it. {If you think I joke see most of the work by Judith Butler and others, for example, ""The Lesbian Phallus and the Morphological Imaginary." differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies(Spring 1992), 4(1): 133-171."}) had identified something called "The Catholic Novel." They were able to point to examples of this creature. Evidently it had some definable morphology and, perhaps, spirituality.

In addition, I would like to separate the Catholic Novel from other "Christian Fiction," because in my reading there is a large sensibility gap between the two forms. There are many novels with a "generic Christian" sensibility, some of them great. But the Catholic Novel, that mysterious entity we seek to define, but into whose confines The Violent Bear it Away is always admitted, has a profoundly Catholic sensibility and understanding of the world. Or does it? Is any novel by a Catholic necessarily a Catholic Novel? Are those potboilers by Father Greeley truly "Catholic Novels?" Does it matter?

I think it does. I think there is a lineage of very reputable work which, while not expressly apologetical, does serve to advance the Catholic view of the world. At one point in our history (and perhaps the point hasn't passed) such works were necessary to counteract and just-short-of-virulent anti-Catholicism pervasive in our culture. There was a time when it was wondered whether a Catholic would be fit to serve in the government-- (until we got that wonderfully comforting reversal of the great St. Thomas More--"God's good servant, but America's first").

A post of digressions, a post we might never see live, yet I revel in writing in and urging us onward to consider the question at more than a superficial level. What is a Catholic Novel? What makes a novel a Catholic Novel? And then, what are the very best Catholic Novels that fall within our definition?

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 1, 2002 5:30 PM.

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