Sunday, April 22, 2007

Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson

Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson was a great writer and historical novelist extraordinaire. My favorites of his novels are The King's Achievement about Henry VIII's sack of the monasteries and its sequel By What Authority, about the recusant priests. According to one site which discusses his many works of fiction:

Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson (1871–1914) was a Catholic priest, a convert from the Anglican Church, who wrote a series of popular short story collections and novels at the beginning of the 20th century.

Monsignor Benson wrote from an explicitly Catholic point of view. However, his works can be appreciated by believers from all religious and ethical systems as exploring man’s relationship to the eternal, and our individual response to it.

Consequently, any reader can find in Benson’s fiction an exploration of the ultimate questions: Why am I here? What does this all mean? Through fiction, Benson explored these questions for himself, in a way calculated to inform others but not coerce.

Does the reader need to be a Catholic to enjoy Benson? Assuredly not, for his works have been popular with people of all faiths and from all walks of life. No one need toddle 'round to the nearest Vestry to be baptized in order to enjoy or even understand Benson’s writing. The reader only needs to bring an open mind and a willingness to be entertained.

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2 comments:

Simon said...

I have directed a wonderful stage version of COME RACK!COME ROPE! twice. A photograph of Benson sits looking at me from across the room as I type this. I have never understood why he isn't more popular.

elena maria vidal said...

Simon, I would love to see COME RACK! COME ROPE! on stage. What marvelous productions those must have been. I don't know why RH Benson is not more popular; he is a great storyteller. My publisher The Neumann Press offers several of his books, including COME RACK! COME ROPE!, another favorite of mine....