Saturday, May 16, 2020

228. Hadrian the Seventh

Hadrian the Seventh
Frederick Rolfe
Around 400 pages

Frederick Rolfe is weird. That might be the understatement of the century, at least this century, but there you go. He desperately wanted to join the Catholic Church, despite being a gay ephebophile, but was kicked out of two seminaries for his unpredictable behavior. He relied on patrons for support in his writing, but managed to alienate most of them. It's important to understand who Rolfe is before reading this, because this is an auto-biographical novel...or at least, Rolfe wishes it was.

George Arthur Rose is a writer who is expelled from a seminary. Three cardinals visit him and tell him what a horrible mistake they made. They invite him to attend the papal conclave and one thing leads to another and he's elected Pope.

This is really embarrassing, I don't know if there is a better way of putting it. Rolfe has delusions of grandeur that would make a real politician blush. He genuinely believes he is infallible, and that if given a big enough platform, like say Pope, he could not only fix the Catholic Church but all of Europe as well. Oh honey.

Life is a disaster, and writers want to make sense of it, make it beautiful, and yes, sometimes even correct it. Rolfe has no awareness of how wrong the world he has created feels, how untrue it is, because he is at the center of it.

I reserve zero star ratings for books that are actively trying to make me puke, but this was pretty bad.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

37 on Guardian's List of 100 best novels. Scuse?

Rolfe would often abbreviate his name to Fr. Rolfe, so people would think he was a priest.

UP NEXT: Nostromo by Joseph Conrad. I just recently read all the Conrad novels on the List, so expect a review up shortly!

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