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Catholics [Paperback]

Brian Moore
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 May 1996 0006548369 978-0006548362 New edition
A story about loss of faith - its substitutes, its sublimation and its torments. Brian Moore is the author of "Lies of Silence" and "No Other Life".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New edition edition (7 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006548369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006548362
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 0.7 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,582,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

On a remote isle off the Kerry coast, a group of monks has decided to take a stand against its masters in Rome – contrary to modern edicts, the brethren have chosen to retain the old traditions and ceremonies of worship. Their ancient practices do not go unnoticed however, and as they start to attract crowds of curious tourists – pilgrims even – someone has to stop them. But when Father James Kinsella arrives with strict orders from the Vatican, he does not find, as he anticipates, a community united in defiance, but one riven by dogma and doubt…

In this masterly evocation of an island brotherhood, Brian Moore explores the subtle boundaries that shift between duty and faith, between obedience and dissent.

"Brian Moore is astonishing. He takes a superb new turn in 'Catholics'… dialogue so spare and true that it is difficult to imagine a more elegant novella, or predict what he can do better."

"Every character in a Moore novel is as real as the man sitting next to me on the tube."

"He is an imaginative craftsman, who writes with perfect lucidity and economy."

"Anybody reading one of Moore's books will want to read them all."

About the Author

Brian Moore, whom Graham Greene called his ‘favourite living novelist’, was born in Belfast in 1921. He emigrated to Canada in 1948, where he became a journalist and adopted Canadian citizenship. He spent some time in New York before settling in California.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak and powerful 8 Oct 2000
Brian Moore tells the story of an Irish Abbott who clings to the old Catholic Faith - Latin Masses, individual confession and all - long after the Fourth Vatican Council which has gone far further down the ecumenical route than anything we have yet seen.
Moore's sparse, taut prose and his incisive understanding of the traditionalists' position make this a fascinating read, and the tension builds steadily until the very last page of the book, when the inherent flaw in the traditionalists' position - obedience to authority - is deployed to devastating effect.
But the outer plot, the abbott's duel with the superior sent to 'get that fool off the mountain' is only half the story. The abbott's own spiritual desolation, and the emptiness of his opponent's belief system provide the internal tension that make this a tremendously powerful read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Other faiths do not have the benefit of a writer like Brian Moore who dissects and debates its nature, its problems and its meanings. Maybe if they had we would all be awash with the urgency of religious thought, demonstration and contention, but we aren't. We have forgotten God, or many more of us have never remembered him in the first place. I hasten to say I have no religion myself and came to Moore after recognising his ability to often say in two or three sentences what another writer might need a hundred paragraphs to explain. His clear, very plain style has a sinew-stiffening humanity and addresses the kinds of subject one could easily dismiss from a less effortlessly honest writer.

A priest is sent from Rome with instruction to the Abbot of Muck - on a barely habitable island off the Irish mainland - to cease forthwith saying Mass in Latin and obey the other demands of the Vatican IV Papal Bull, which was designed to drag the faith into the 21st century. The old ways of saying Mass practised on the island and on a hillside on the mainland have attracted media attention due to the tourists who flock in droves to join the faithful. It is no longer seemly to have Vatican IV disobeyed.

There is very little discussion to take place. The Abbot's duty is to obey the Church of Rome. We are given insight into the thoughts of the Abbot, who is not, as he says, a holy man. In the end he must confront his own feelings and convictions. It is a measure of this very short book (102pp) that it brings to the secular reader a sense of how momentous this moment was, in both the practise of Catholicism and in the mind of the Abbot. Whatever one believes, it cannot be said to leave one cold.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Find a copy! 18 Mar 2008
It's astonishing that most of Moore's (very good) novels are kept in print but his best book (this one) isn't. Rush to buy a second-hand copy, if you can find one! This is a novella pared down to not more than a short story, really, but where every sentence is freighted beautifully, touching and drole, slyly humourous and lucidly intelligent. The story has reverberations beyond the Graham Greenesque central character, the Abbot who loses his faith. What the story hinges around is the paradox of a deeply traditional place (the monastery island) which becomes paradoxically a centre for tourism, a roaring success because of, not despite, its auld ways and simplicity. A kind of intimation of what would happen to the Irish economy in the 1990s and 1990s. It's also postmodern in how it pictures religious belief/dogma being emptied out, but with faith (in an inner-life way) broadened and deepened. A terrific and very interesting little book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Catholics novel 21 April 2014
By pf
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting novel, only purchased it because my father had asked for the DVD. Quality was fine, interesting plot which probably has a limited audience.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarks on Brian Moore's "Catholics" 11 April 2009
The author shows a remarkable prescience as regards the effects of Vatican II on the Catholic world. Happily, the reality today is not quite as extreme as what he imagined. But there are theologians who continue to militate in this "liberal" direction. The Popes who have followed John XXIII have shifted the rudder in a conservative sense, and that is no doubt precisely what was needed.
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