Monday, July 13, 2015

Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, Novelist

Ann Applegarth surveys all of the fiction, historical and contemporary by the convert son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson for The Catholic World Report:

Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI (when he was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) have encouraged Catholics to read Lord of the World, Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s 1907 novel that eerily predicted the state of the world at the beginning of the 21st century.

Catholics have listened. Back in print and apparently selling well, Benson’s dystopian tale that, as Pope Francis said, depicts “the spirit of the world which leads to apostasy almost as if it were a prophecy,” is generating much talk and not a few articles, including Dorothy Cummings McLean’s pithy commentary in
Catholic World Report (January 15, 2014).

But Benson—Hugh, as his family called him—was not a one-novel novelist. During the years from his ordination to the Catholic priesthood in 1904 until his death in 1914, a month shy of his 43rd birthday, he published 16 novels—in addition to writing several non-fiction books, hundreds of homilies, devotionals, plays, apologetics, essays, children’s books, poetry, letters, and introductions to books of other authors!

Should we read Robert Hugh Benson’s other novels, too?

She answers "yes" with a list and brief summary of each novel. I would answer "yes" too, although I have not read all of his novels. Read the rest here.

I do have one recommendation regarding his historical novels set in the English Reformation era: Read The King's Achievement first and By What Authority second. They have common characters and the chronological order is important.

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