"Only a Christian, nay a mystic, because he has some idea of what there is in man, can be a complete novelist."
Literature . . . is the science or history partly and at best of the natural man, partly of man in rebellion. It is a contradiction in terms to attempt a sinless Literature of sinful man.
--Saint John Henry Newman
All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it.
--Flannery O'Connor How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic
is a sweeping survey of some of the finest literary works ever written by our fallen and yet redeemed race. Joshua Hren takes readers on a tour that spans centuries and explores our broken path to salvation, passing through stories known to many but perhaps understood by few, and others that merit a broader readership.
With appeals to staples of the Catholic literary tradition such as Flannery O'Connor and Evelyn Waugh, to the often-sidelined works of Léon Bloy, Caroline Gordon, and Christopher Beha, to the masterpieces of even those who were distanced from the Church--Flaubert and James Joyce and Chekhov; Hemingway and David Foster Wallace and George Saunders--Hren sheds light on stories that grapple with matters essential to Catholics.
His intrinsically Catholic approach to the study of literature examines the presence of conversion in great literary texts, and considers the way in which writers dramatize the workings of grace upon nature
. His analysis also bears a sacramental vision, articulating the ways in which seen images point to unseen realities. How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic
searches out the persistence of Catholic ideas, images, and concerns in purportedly secular and postmodern stories. It is a love letter to the Christic imagination which incarnates human nature as having its final end not in the characters' self-actualization, but in their salvation, giving readers of this work a deeper understanding of how the power of story can lead them closer to Christ. Includes a section for aspiring writers devoted to the techniques and devices that make good fiction, as well as a list of must-read literary works by which all Catholics can be enriched.