Thursday, March 18, 2010

Top ten wicked priests in fiction

Paul Murray's first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize in 2003. The Irish writer has just published his second novel, Skippy Dies.

For the Guardian, he named a ten best list of the worst fictional clergymen. One priest on the list:
The Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This "unwritten poem", which nihilistic Ivan Karamazov relates to his saintly brother Alyosha, is set in 16th-century Seville at the height of the Inquisition. Christ has made a brief reappearance to boost the flagging faith of his people. Witnessing him resurrect a little girl, the Grand Inquisitor has him arrested, and that night in his cell reveals that the church has long abandoned his teachings. Christ's insistence on man's freedom led to moral and social chaos, the Inquisitor argues. Man is weak; freedom makes him unhappy; he not only needs but actively wants to be ruled by force, and the church has made a pact with the devil to do just that. Dostoevsky's depiction of the totalitarian state in which the oppressed people effectively collude proved chillingly prophetic.
Read about the other clerics on the list.

The Brothers Karamazov made James Runcie's top ten list of books about brothers, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer.

--Marshal Zeringue