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Morte d'Urban (1962)

por J. F. Powers

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492737,133 (4.05)22
Winner of The 1963 National Book Award for Fiction. The hero of J.F. Powers's comic masterpiece is Father Urban, a man of the cloth who is also a man of the world. Charming, with an expansive vision of the spiritual life and a high tolerance for moral ambiguity, Urban enjoys a national reputation as a speaker on the religious circuit and has big plans for the future. But then the provincial head of his dowdy religious order banishes him to a retreat house in the Minnesota hinterlands. Father Urban soon bounces back, carrying God's word with undaunted enthusiasm through the golf courses, fishing lodges, and backyard barbecues of his new turf. Yet even as he triumphs his tribulations mount, and in the end his greatest success proves a setback from which he cannot recover. First published in 1962, Morte D'Urban has been praised by writers as various as Gore Vidal, William Gass, Mary Gordon, and Philip Roth. This beautifully observed, often hilarious tale of a most unlikely Knight of Faith is among the finest achievements of an author whose singular vision assures him a permanent place in American literature.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
It took me a while to get into Powers' short stories, but after I finished the first volume of them I couldn't put them down. So I was primed for this, and it didn't disappoint. In fact, the larger canvas seems to suit him more in some ways. Granted, it suffers a little bit from the same kind of disjointed narrative track that Cheever Wapshot Chronicle suffers from, but to nowhere near the same degree. But that's this novel's only flaw (unless you count 'being about a priest' as a flaw, which I don't, but some might): it's beautifully written, quietly hilarious in an Evelyn Waugh kind of way, and extraordinarily subtle in its depiction of the unbridgeable gap between the best and worst aspects of modern human beings. Powers has an incredible ability to vary the distance between the narrative voice and main character (sometimes they're practically identical, sometimes much fun is had at Urban's expense), and to elicit both ironic scorn & joyful admiration for all of the characters, all in perfectly clear prose. My only complaint (occasional disjointed narrative aside) is that he only wrote two novels. ( )
2 vote stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I greatly appreciated this book. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jun 16, 2013 |
This is a fabulous piece of writing on an era that is long gone,good or bad. Certainly, there is a more coherent sense of place and community here than today. Powers placed the life of a somewhat vain and ambitious man in the context of the Catholic hierarchy, with the same striving for power and success that laymen face.If you like Walker Percy or Peter Taylor, I think you will like this. ( )
  DaleCropper | Apr 13, 2011 |
Cradle Catholics will enjoy ( )
  brone | Jan 26, 2011 |
Father Urban is a priest in the fictitious Order of St. Clement. Based in 1950s Chicago, Fr Urban travels extensively, preaching at missions on the religious circuit throughout the mid-western United States. He lives somewhat of a high life for a priest, traveling by first class rail and dining in fine restaurants. He considers himself above the petty squabbles and politics of the Order, but one day he is transferred to a remote outpost in Duesterhaus, Minnesota (in fact, when I located Duesterhaus on Yahoo Maps, it literally placed me in the middle of nowhere).

Fr Urban arrives by train and, finding no taxi available, walks over a mile from the station to St Clement's Hill. Ostensibly a retreat center, the rector (Father Wilfrid) and a lay assistant (Brother Harold) spend most of their time refurbishing the facilities, always at the lowest possible cost. Their only transportation is a run-down pickup truck. Signs are hand-painted by Brother Harold. Winters are bitter cold; most of the rooms are left unheated. The Hill is largely ignored by the Order -- out of sight, out of mind.

During the week the men work on the property, and on weekends they have pastoral duties in churches nearby. Fr Urban begins making contacts in the community, building relationships that can benefit St. Clement's Hill and the Order. Fr Urban settles in reluctantly, but over time the place begins to grow on him. When he is called to fill in for a pastor who is taking extended leave, he throws himself into the work: church attendance goes up, he mentors a curate, and cultivates support for a building campaign. Fr Urban's Midas touch served him well on the circuit, and begins to pay dividends for The Hill as well.

Throughout his time at St. Clement's, Fr Urban remains in contact with Billy Cosgrove, a wealthy benefactor in Chicago. Billy gives freely to The Hill, beginning with a television set at Christmas. Later his gifts become more substantial, and while Urban appreciates Billy's generosity, he also begins to see another side of his friend's character. Billy makes his generosity very public, expecting recognition and instant service. Urban is just as flamboyant as Billy in his own way, but performs innumerable acts of kindness towards others, almost always behind the scenes.

This book is filled with dry wit, as J.F. Powers pokes fun at the Catholic Church, the priesthood, and small-town life. The emotional side of the story -- told through Urban's relationships with fellow clergy, Billy, and various townspeople -- sneaks up on you. When I began this novel, Father Urban struck me as something of a blowhard, but by the end of the novel he was a "real" person worthy of admiration. ( )
4 vote lauralkeet | Feb 21, 2010 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Somewhere between a comedy-of-manners and a decidedly low-key if ambiguous tragedy
 

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Winner of The 1963 National Book Award for Fiction. The hero of J.F. Powers's comic masterpiece is Father Urban, a man of the cloth who is also a man of the world. Charming, with an expansive vision of the spiritual life and a high tolerance for moral ambiguity, Urban enjoys a national reputation as a speaker on the religious circuit and has big plans for the future. But then the provincial head of his dowdy religious order banishes him to a retreat house in the Minnesota hinterlands. Father Urban soon bounces back, carrying God's word with undaunted enthusiasm through the golf courses, fishing lodges, and backyard barbecues of his new turf. Yet even as he triumphs his tribulations mount, and in the end his greatest success proves a setback from which he cannot recover. First published in 1962, Morte D'Urban has been praised by writers as various as Gore Vidal, William Gass, Mary Gordon, and Philip Roth. This beautifully observed, often hilarious tale of a most unlikely Knight of Faith is among the finest achievements of an author whose singular vision assures him a permanent place in American literature.

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2 edições deste livro foram publicadas por NYRB Classics.

Edições: 0940322234, 159017660X

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