A view of Catholic fiction that G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, and Ignatius Press author T.M. Doran have in common
SAN FRANCISCO, November 12, 2012 – What constitutes a Catholic novel? Must it include obvious Catholic themes and characters, or is there another approach that will more effectively engage and challenge our culture?
This is a question that intrigued author T.M. Doran as he set out to write his second novel, Terrapin. Doran desired to write a rousing, absorbing story and was inspired to follow in the big footsteps of Catholic writers such as G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot, J.R.R. Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh, and Flannery O’Connor. Some of these writers, such as Tolkien, composed heroic myths. Others, such as Eliot, Waugh, and O’Connor, delved into the messiness of the world. These stories reflected the light of the Gospel, not by imposing the author’s viewpoint on the reader, but by proposing ideas and values which readers might apply to their own experiences.
Sometimes, this takes the form (as in O’Connor’s Wise Blood) of depicting a world without the Gospel, or the form (as in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited) of the misery that proceeds when Catholics seek to accommodate the world.
That isn’t to say that these great writers wrote with the explicit intention to evangelize, but they were writing from perspectives that were formed by their faith and by the Gospel. Likewise, Doran’s faith formed the characters and themes in Terrapin, including soul-searching themes such as human freedom, the possibility of transformation, man’s potential for doing either good or evil and his response to the consequences of his actions.
T.M. Doran explains, “Many in our culture are, in part, formed by literature. Many Catholics are sorely aggrieved by family and friends who have abandoned the faith or are antagonistic to the faith, family and friends who would not read an explicitly Catholic novel or a book on Catholic apologetics, but they might read a rousing story like Terrapin, and they might be stirred by it to examine their own lives and priorities.”
About the Author
T. M. Doran is a writer, educator, and consultant. An adjunct professor of civil engineering at Lawrence Technological University, he is the author of the popular novel Toward the Gleam.