The History of Richard Raynal, Solitary
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By Robert Hugh Benson | Foreword by Evelyn Waugh
The word of the Lord comes to the hermit Richard Raynal, calling him to deliver a single message of dire importance to the king. Forsaking his idyllic solitude, Richard journeys to Westminster to convey the contents of his mystical vision to the king and then prepare him for his passion and death. His errand is seen as highly suspect by the king’s men, who subject the saintly solitary to brutal and devious torments of body, mind, and soul in hope of arresting his mission. To the bitter end, Richard must remain steadfast in his trust in God and his fealty to the king.
My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the king. (Psalm 2:10)
Cleverly fashioned (in keeping with the literary tricks of the time) as a translation of a newly discovered manuscript, The History of Richard Raynal, Solitary, was Benson’s personal favorite of his many books. In the words of Evelyn Waugh, the story was “the expression of his earliest dream—the recluse with the single, vital message.” Even to this day, “it still has the charm of that fresh enthusiasm.”
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Robert Hugh Benson (1871–1914), the son of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, was a convert to Roman Catholicism and was ordained a priest in 1904. A dynamic preacher and author, Benson wrote numerous novels, short stories, plays, and spiritual texts. Many of these works are now available from Cluny, including Come Rack, Come Rope, The Dawn of All, and Lord of the World.