Brother Jacob

Henrik Stangerup, Author, Henrik Strangerup, Author, Anne Born, Translator Marion Boyars Publishers $24.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-7145-2948-6
With this historical novel, a bestseller in his native country, Danish writer Stangerup completes a trilogy grounded in the ``stages on life's way''--aesthetic, ethical, and religious--identified by Kierkegaard. His protagonist--an actual figure, meticulously fictionalized--is a brother of King Christian II of Denmark who becomes a Franciscan friar at the time of the Lutheran Reformation. Dextrously moving from hagiography to as-told-to autobiography, Stangerup chronicles Jacob's search for a truly religious Christianity. After joining the Franciscan order, Jacob is educated in Paris, which is embroiled in theological controversy; later the Franciscans are expelled from newly Lutheran Denmark, and Jacob and his brothers travel to Spain, which is rife with anti-Semitism and overrun with rule-bound monasteries. Inspired by Erasmus's Christian humanism and Thomas More's Utopia , Jacob sets out for New Spain, where he founds churches and monasteries, campaigns for the natives' right to be ordained as priests and is revered as a saint upon his death. Stangerup's brilliance is manifest in every line of his vigorously translated prose, as is his copious research. But while Brother Jacob struggles to escape his willful personality, in which ``everything is turned into `I' and `I' and `I,' '' that personality never fully emerges from the crowds of arcane facts that surround it. In his fidelity to history, Stangerup has produced a work that demands from the reader the patience of a saint. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 303 pages - 978-0-7145-3018-5
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