Loyola Press, under its Loyola Classics imprint, reprinted Mr. Blue in 2005. What inspired you to produce a scholarly edition of this often reproduced work?
I taught Mr. Blue for the first time in my “Christianity and Literature” class in the fall of 2014 and greatly enjoyed it. I taught it alongside G. K. Chesterton’s biography of St. Francis and noticed quite a bit of overlap, as if Connolly had consciously been drawing on Chesterton. That led me to start researching Mr. Blue and Connolly further, the idea being that I’d submit an article on the subject to an academic journal. The Loyola Classics edition went out of print in 2015. Later that year Cluny Media, through a mutual friend, approached me with the idea of reprinting classic Catholic books. Given the research I’d accumulated at that point, I proposed an annotated edition of Mr. Blue, and we started looking into it.
Myles Connolly’s book was once a standard text in many high school and college literature classes. What’s the message of this book and what makes it worth reading today?
The message of the book is threefold. First, consummation of joy comes in total self-offering to God and neighbor. Second, complete self-giving is a process that usually progresses in stages and in communion with others. Third, everything in creation participates in the glory of God. That threefold message is of utmost worth today, where joy is often figured as sophisticated hedonism, radical individualism, secular do-goodism and the like.
Similarly, Mr. Blue fights off the romanticized notions that saints are made overnight, that there’s a “one size fits all” path to holiness and that salvation is an individual affair. Finally, the book’s celebration of history, architecture, music, locale and plain old human effort is a testament to Connolly’s conviction that every created thing can be a help on the path of Christian ascent.
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