Literature: March 2005 Archives

Who Knew. . .


that John Dryden, one of the greatest of the crop of late 17th century writers actually composed a Life of St. Francis Xavier and, it is reputed in the intro a life of St. Ignatius. Haven't read 'em so I don't have any idea how "fair" they might be, but it came as news to me.

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The Moment of Definition


from Helena
Evelyn Waugh

"There are people in this city," said Sylvester quite cheerfully, "who believe that the emperor was preparing a bath of children's blood to cure himself of the measles. I cured him instead and that is why he has been so generous to me. People believe that here and now while the emperor and I are alive and going about in front of their faces. What will they believe in a thousand years' time?"

"And some of them don't seem to believe anything at all," said Helena. "It's all a game of words."

"I know," said Sylvester, "I know."

And then Helena said something that seemed to have no relevance. "Where is the cross anyway?" she asked.

"What cross, my dear."

"The only one. The real one."

"I don't know. I don't think anyone knows. I don't think anyone has ever asked before."

"It must be somewhere. Wood doesn't just melt like snow. It's not three hundred years old. The temples here are full of beams and paneling twice that age. It stands to reason God would take more care of the cross than of them."

"Nothing 'stands to reason' with God. If he had wanted us to have it, no doubt he would have given it to us. But he hasn't chosen to. He gives us eanough."

"But how do you know he doesn't want us to have it--the cross I mean? I bet he's just waiting for one of us to go and find it--just at this moment when it's most needed. Just at this moment when everyone is forgettting it and chattering about the hypostatic union there's a solid chunk of wood waiting for them to have their silly heads knocked against. I'm going off to find it," said Helena.

The empress dowager was an old woman, almost of an age with Pope Sylvester, but he regarded her fondly, as though she were a child, an impetuous young princess who went well to hounds, and he said with the gentlest irony, "You'll tell me, won't you?--if you are successful."

"I'll tell the world," said Helena.

Just one of many examples of exactly the right touch, exactly the right exposition, exactly the right weight and understanding that guides Waugh's hand throughout the novel. If my other carryings-on have not already convinced you, let the prose carry you to go and get this novel. Rather like dipping into Flannery O'Connor, you'll be very pleased that you did.

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Boswell re: Johnson 1750

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from Life of Johnson
James Boswell

With what devout and conscientious sentiments this paper was undertaken, is evidenced by the following prayer, which he composed and offered up on the occasion: "Almighty God, the giver of all good things, without whose help all labour is ineffectual, and without whose grace all wisdom is folly: grant, I beseech Thee, that in this undertaking thy Holy Spirit may not be with-held from me, but that I may promote thy glory, and the salvation of myself and others: grant this, O Lord, for the sake of thy son, JESUS CHRIST. Amen."

A prayer which Catholic Bloggers might do well to read and make their own as they continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Literature category from March 2005.

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