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Brother Jacob

Brother Jacob

by Henrik Stangerup (Adapted by), Henrik Strangerup, Anne Born (Translator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
With Brother Jacob , Stangerup has completed his Kierkegaard trilogy of the three stages on life's road: the ethical, the aesthetic, and the religious. The earlier novels were The Road to Lagoa Santa ( LJ 1/84) and The Seducer (Boyars, 1990). This book is a fictional re-creation of the life of a Franciscan Renaissance monk, son of a Danish king, who studies in Paris, becomes a friar and administrator in Denmark, and flees to Mexico when the Reformation outlaws his order in northern Europe. Inspired by his contemporaries Erasmus and Thomas More, he builds hospitals and monasteries modeled on More's Utopia and becomes a radical champion of the Tarask Indians. Insisting on heartfelt goodness as opposed to formalistic piety, he strives to unite Franciscan Catholicism with Tarask tradition and mysticism. A scrupulous scholar, Strangerup paints a vast panorama of Humanism and the Reformation as well as the religious and political strife in Europe and the New World. In the end, Brother Jacob emerges as a good, pure, life-affirming, St. Francis-like figure. This highly rewarding novel is not easy to read, but Stangerup's trilogy should be in all serious fiction collections.-- Ulla Sweedler, Univ. of California at San Diego Lib.

Product Details

Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.57(w) x 8.78(h) x 1.10(d)

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