Lewi's Journey

Lewi's Journey

by Per Olov Enquist
     
 

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"Lewi's Journey is a fictional account of the two men who built the Swedish Pentecostal movement from a renegade congregation based in a crumbling church house and ridiculed for paying credence to such practices as speaking in tongues, spirit baptism, and left-wing politics, into the third largest religious community within Christendom, claiming at its peak a…  See more details below

Overview

"Lewi's Journey is a fictional account of the two men who built the Swedish Pentecostal movement from a renegade congregation based in a crumbling church house and ridiculed for paying credence to such practices as speaking in tongues, spirit baptism, and left-wing politics, into the third largest religious community within Christendom, claiming at its peak a membership of more than 250 million souls worldwide. A humble preacher and failed writer of social novels, Lewi Pethrus introduced controversial reforms and a commitment to social equality through his tireless pursuit of spiritual and moral purity. His relentless energy won the movement thousands of new converts, but none more important than Sven Lidman, a decadent bohemian poet racked by disatrous affairs and a tortuously failed marriage, who was reborn as a prodigal son and the spiritual conscience of the movement, holding swooning audiences in thrall to his ecstatic and brilliantly metaphorical sermons that often recounted his own journey from perdition to penitence. These two men, allied by their faith and fervor, who guided the movement through unprecedented growth, were ultimately to become bitter enemies, through a schism ignited by a mysterious journey to America undertaken by Pethrus during World War II." Lewi's Journey is at once an examination of the conflicts between faith, power, conscience, and sexuality and a hypnotic tale of a moral and spiritual quest for purity and meaning.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The history of the Swedish Pentecostal Church makes an unlikely-and inspired-subject for this historical novel from the formidably gifted Enquist (The Royal Physician's Visit, 2001, etc.). Erstwhile Pentecostal communicant Efraim Markstrom willed his lebenslauf (life story) to Enquist, the author tells us in the prologue. Enquist uses incidents from Markstrom's lebenslauf, accompanied by recollections of his own religious upbringing and meditations on Sweden's political and ecclesiastical history, to relate the saga of two Pentecostal leaders. Pethrus Lewi Johansson, aka Lewi Pethrus, transforms his fascination with a maverick, Christ-centered faith (created in San Francisco in 1906 by a one-eyed crippled black preacher "speaking in tongues") into a movement that by the 1920s rivals his homeland's state-controlled church. Underachieving bohemian poet Sven Lidman, disappointed in his search for "rapture" in literary creation and amorous affairs, makes his way to Lewi's church, finding therein his long-sought "artistic genre . . . storytelling as sermon." Juxtaposing the two men's stories, bringing them gradually together, then recounting their growing enmity, separation and disillusioned later lives, Enquist painstakingly fashions two stunningly rich characterizations. The self-absorbed Lidman is a calculating sybarite who employs seduction, advantageous marriage and charismatic rhetoric to feed his need for celebrity. The stoic, basically humorless, distractible Lewi perseveres through the 20th-century's troubled decades, preserving his congregation's unity throughout various workers', farmers' and women's movements. Lewi puts down dissension in the form of an ambitious missionary, thenemulates the travail of John Bunyan's Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress during his "exile" in the United States. His return to Sweden in 1941 brings a climactic break with Lidman, who has become enamored of Hitler's Mein Kampf and eventually resigns from the Pentecostal Church. From their intertwined odyssey, Enquist has created one of the most powerful dramatizations of religious experience ever written. A masterpiece, from one of the world's most underrated great writers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585673414
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
03/28/2005
Pages:
468
Product dimensions:
6.29(w) x 9.21(h) x 1.43(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Per Olov Enquist is a journalist, playwright and novelist. He has garnered international recognition for his work, including the novels The Royal Physician's Visit, The Book about Blanche and Marie, and Lewi's Journey.

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