“Only a Christian, nay a mystic, because he has some idea of what there is in man, can be a complete novelist.”Jacques Maritain, in Art & Scholasticism
People with hope, to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, read novels.
Much ado has always been made about the “Catholic novel.” Many of its authors are household names—G. K. Chesterton and J. R. R. Tolkien, Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy—and rightly so, as they are cream of the crop. But the rest of the crop, be they lesser known or unknown, also offers compelling, dramatic, unforgettable literature.
The list goes on but let’s consider the point made: the Catholic novel is in special need of recovery and restoration. The Cluny Classics series exists to do just that with new editions of great novels that can lay claim to the mantle of “Catholic.” The series includes the household names like those mentioned above, but it also holds less familiar or unknown names such as Myles Connolly, Gertrud von le Fort, and Elisabeth Langässer.
Whether a Cluny Classic is familiar or untried, each achieves the goal of the novel, as described in Mauriac’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “To reveal the universality of this narrow world into which we are born, where we have learned to love and to suffer.”
So take up a Cluny Classics novel and read—and hope.
Introduction and Notes by Stephen Mirarchi, PhD
Connolly, best known for his novel Mr. Blue, was also a gifted short story writer. These six stories, especially “The Reason for Ann” and “The Big Red House on Hope Street,” demonstrate the full scope of his cinematic imagination and the solidity of his grasp on the fundamental truths of God, family, and friendship.
Oscar Revolu’s death hurls his family, once poised to enjoy lives of success and happiness, into disgrace and destitution. A near-perfect précis of Mauriac’s matchless ability to depict human freedom—and frailty—in the face of the infinite mystery of existence.
Paul Selmer is a typical child of the experientially emancipated, intellectually enlightened modern age, yearning for a deeper, more abiding meaning and order for his hopes and loves. Raw, honest, and sensitive, the first volume of Nobel Prize-winning Undset’s novel The Winding Road captures the peculiar tensions and harmonies of flesh and spirit in a drama of germinating grace.
A number of titles in the Series are complemented by a new Introduction and accompanying Notes for the Reader which serve to re-introduce the book and its author, to re-acquaint us with the contexts and circumstances in which the book was written and its author lived, and to illustrate the place of the book and author in literary history. Our contributors are:
Stephen Mirarchi, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at Benedictine College.
Timothy O’Malley, Ph.D., is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life and academic director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy.
Andrew T. J. Kaethler, Ph.D., is academic dean and assistant professor of Theology at Catholic Pacific College (British Columbia).
Gerald J. Russello is editor of The University Bookman and a partner at Sidley Austin LLP.
Anthony Esolen, Ph.D., is professor and writer in residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts.
Kelly Scott Franklin, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at Hillsdale College.