Our Scarpa conference at Villanova Friday ended with a delightful dinner, during which the conversation ranged over many topics. My friend and colleague Lisa Schiltz’s Mirror of Justice post of last night reminds me of one of those topics. As she described it in her post:
The most dramatic event was the dinner afterwards, when Patrick and John Breen almost came to fisticuffs over whether Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisted, or Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, is the quintessential Catholic novel. (Susan Stabile tried to broker a compromise with Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamozov, but she didn’t make much headway.)
As Lisa went on to describe, we resolved that we would read (or re-read) one or more of those books this summer and then blog about them on Mirror of Justice.
The conversation, of course, raises the question (which we did not discuss over dinner) of what it means to call a novel a “Catholic novel.” So I thought I’d post the topic here with the invitation for you to consider both (a) what it means to describe a work as a “quintessential Catholic novel” and (b) what your candidate for that novel might be.
Finnegan’s Wake, if only for the one line: “Catholic means, ‘Here comes everybody!'”
Themes for a “Quintessential Catholic Novel”–justice, mercy, advocacy for those marginalized–so my nominees are Crime and Punishment, and the best novel, ever, To Kill a Mockingbird.