Here is presented my readings of the works of Sigrid Undset, Graham Greene, and J. R. R. Tolkien, three great Catholic novelists of the 20th Century. This information is simply intended to recommend some outstanding reading material, and even warn against a few clunkers among the works of these typically outstanding authors. I hope to point the reader in the direction of novels which would be of particular interest and enjoyment, according to their literary taste. For a comprehensive rundown of Catholic authors I would refer you to CatholicAuthors.com.
Sigrid Undset, Norwegian novelist in the first half of the 20th century. Converted to Catholicism near the beginning of her literary career.
Written in the style of a traditional saga and following the story of Gunnar's daughter Vigdis and her wooer Ljot, this reads like Egil's Saga, only better. I laughed out loud at several points during this grimly determined tale of love gone awry. I believe Gunnar's Daughter is a masterful work surpassing most of Undset's later (modern) writing.
Almost as good as The Master of Hestviken, and it must be admitted that Undset has a slightly better grasp on her female characters than males.
The Master of Hestviken or Olav Audunsson, in four parts: The Axe, The Snake Pit, In The Wilderness, & The Son Avenger
Possibly my favorite novel (I have many favorites). The novel follows Olav from his time as foster-son to Steinfinn through old age and the conflict that arises between his secret sin and his support for his children.
The novel The Wild Orchid and its sequel The Burning Bush
This is The Master of Hestviken or Kristin Lavransdatter set in modern (1910-1950) Norway, and as such holds special resonance for our dealings with the trials of the modern world.
Images in a Mirror
Ick, I had a hell of a time plowing through this one, not exactly a page-turner and not what I'd call moving, or groundbreaking, or . . . Good material for a Lifetime movie.
Graham Greene, another Catholic convert, was a prolific novelists whose works included three with strong Catholic content: Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, and The Power and the Glory.
The Quiet American
The Captain and the Enemy
The Human Factor
The Power and the Glory
The Heart of the Matter
A Sort of Life (autobiography)
Our Man in Havana
The Lord of the Rings, in three parts: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, with the essential appendices included in ROTK.
LOTR has now been made into movies, and done very well, I think, so it is well known. However, if you have not read the book, you are missing the Buckleberry ferry. I have read Lord of the Rings maybe five or six times in my life and know several people who read it every year. It has a strong claim to the title of Novel of the Century.
The story of Bilbo Baggins, Frodo's adoptive father (as well as 1st and 2nd cousin, once removed either way), and how he had an Adventure which took him far into the Blue and to the lair of the great worm Smaug the Golden. It is written to be more accessible to children than is LOTR, but an adult will find this no obstacle to his enjoyment.
Middle Earth during the First Age of the world; LOTR takes place at the end of the Second Age. The book is built around the theft of the Silmarils, great jewels crafted by the elvish lord Feanor. If you read LOTR and wondered who Earendil and Gil-Galad and Turgon and Beren and Luthien were, and the Numenoreans, the Men of the West (e.g. Strider/Aragorn), and what was Gondolin, and where the heck Sauron came from, this is the book for you.
Leaf by Niggle
A charming short story about Niggle, an artist who has the hardest time trying to finish his epic painting of a Leaf. Hello, symbolism!
An short illustrated children's story, outrageous and comical and simple, that will surely amuse.
Farmer Giles of Ham
The rise of a hero from farmer to champion, with some satire of etymological 'experts' thrown in! Plus a dog. And a dragon.
The Christopher Tolkien Extravaganza
Okay, it's not really titled that, but that's pretty much what it is: a bazillion volumes of Tolkien's earlier drafts of material for The Silmarillion, etc., plus previously unpublished material expounding on various segments of the history of Tolkien's sub-creative world. If you're really into Tolkien, read The Silmarillion. If you are obsessed and not worried about losing some of the mystery, read this series of expository source material. Keep in mind that Tolkien never expected this to be published, and sometimes things are better left to the imagination.
Here follows my hitbox, from Hitboxcentral.com.
This gives me information about how many people visit the site,
how they got here, et cetera. It's mainly for curiosity's sake.
It's 'free' for me, so they put up advertising.
Visit it if you wish.