Rorate Caeli

You suggest: Summer Book Suggestions - First post
Que hablen mal de mí, pero que hablen


Sancho Panza
(Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, Plaza de España, Madrid, 1929 - detail)

Fame, the great temptation of earthly glory - even if only imaginary fame, even if infamy in fact. That seems enough for Sancho Panza, in the dialogue below from the second (1615) tome of the Quixote, but the caballero de la triste figura reminds him that there are higher kinds of fame and glory, in sainthood and... chivalry, what else?

What are your suggestions for books and readings in this upcoming summer (winter for our many readers in the Southern Hemisphere)? Please, share any books or texts on any subject matter and in any format, and in any language, that you consider interesting, edifying, or simply entertaining for other readers.

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– ... Pero digan lo que quisieren; que desnudo nací, desnudo me hallo: ni pierdo ni gano; aunque, por verme puesto en libros y andar por ese mundo de mano en mano, no se me da un higo que digan de mí todo lo que quisieren.

–Eso me parece, Sancho –dijo don Quijote–, a lo que sucedió a un famoso poeta destos tiempos, el cual, habiendo hecho una maliciosa sátira contra todas las damas cortesanas, no puso ni nombró en ella a una dama que se podía dudar si lo era o no; la cual, viendo que no estaba en la lista de las demás, se quejó al poeta, diciéndole que qué había visto en ella para no ponerla en el número de las otras, y que alargase la sátira, y la pusiese en el ensanche; si no, que mirase para lo que había nacido. Hízolo así el poeta, y púsola cual no digan dueñas, y ella quedó satisfecha, por verse con fama, aunque infame. También viene con esto lo que cuentan de aquel pastor que puso fuego y abrasó el templo famoso de Diana, contado por una de las siete maravillas del mundo, sólo porque quedase vivo su nombre en los siglos venideros; y, aunque se mandó que nadie le nombrase, ni hiciese por palabra o por escrito mención de su nombre, porque no consiguiese el fin de su deseo, todavía se supo que se llamaba Eróstrato. También alude a esto lo que sucedió al grande emperador Carlo Quinto con un caballero en Roma. Quiso ver el emperador aquel famoso templo de la Rotunda, que en la antigüedad se llamó el templo de todos los dioses, y ahora, con mejor vocación, se llama de todos los santos, y es el edificio que más entero ha quedado de los que alzó la gentilidad en Roma, y es el que más conserva la fama de la grandiosidad y magnificencia de sus fundadores: él es de hechura de una media naranja, grandísimo en estremo, y está muy claro, sin entrarle otra luz que la que le concede una ventana, o, por mejor decir, claraboya redonda que está en su cima, desde la cual mirando el emperador el edificio, estaba con él y a su lado un caballero romano, declarándole los primores y sutilezas de aquella gran máquina ymemorable arquitetura; y, habiéndose quitado de la claraboya, dijo al emperador: ‘‘Mil veces, Sacra Majestad, me vino deseo de abrazarme con vuestra Majestad y arrojarme de aquella claraboya abajo, por dejar de mí fama eterna en el mundo’’. ‘‘Yo os agradezco –respondió el emperador– el no haber puesto tan mal pensamiento en efeto, y de aquí adelante no os pondré yo en ocasión que volváis a hacer prueba de vuestra lealtad; y así, os mando que jamás me habléis, ni estéis donde yo estuviere’’. Y, tras estas palabras, le hizo una gran merced. Quiero decir, Sancho, que el deseo de alcanzar fama es activo en gran manera. ¿Quién piensas tú que arrojó a Horacio del puente abajo, armado de todas armas, en la profundidad del Tibre? ¿Quién abrasó el brazo y la mano a Mucio? ¿Quién impelió a Curcio a lanzarse en la profunda sima ardiente que apareció en la mitad de Roma? ¿Quién, contra todos los agüeros que en contra se le habían mostrado, hizo pasar el Rubicón a César? Y, con ejemplos más modernos, ¿quién barrenó los navíos y dejó en seco y aislados los valerosos españoles guiados por el cortesísimo Cortés en el Nuevo Mundo? Todas estas y otras grandes y diferentes hazañas son, fueron y serán obras de la fama, que los mortales desean como premios y parte de la inmortalidad que sus famosos hechos merecen, puesto que los cristianos, católicos y andantes caballeros más habemos de atender a la gloria de los siglos venideros, que es eterna en las regiones etéreas y celestes, que a la vanidad de la fama que en este presente y acabable siglo se alcanza; la cual fama, por mucho que dure, en fin se ha de acabar con el mesmo mundo, que tiene su fin señalado. Así, ¡oh Sancho!, que nuestras obras no han de salir del límite que nos tiene puesto la religión cristiana, que profesamos. Hemos de matar en los gigantes a la soberbia; a la envidia, en la generosidad y buen pecho; a la ira, en el reposado continente y quietud del ánimo; a la gula y al sueño, en el poco comer que comemos y en el mucho velar que velamos; a la lujuria y lascivia, en la lealtad que guardamos a las que hemos hecho señoras de nuestros pensamientos; a la pereza, con andar por todas las partes del mundo, buscando las ocasiones que nos puedan hacer y hagan, sobre cristianos, famosos caballeros. Ves aquí, Sancho, los medios por donde se alcanzan los estremos de alabanzas que consigo trae la buena fama.

–... But let them say what they like; naked was I born, naked I find myself, I neither lose nor gain; nay, while I see myself put into a book and passed on from hand to hand over the world, I don't care a fig, let them say what they like of me.

That, Sancho, returned Don Quixote, reminds me of what happened to a famous poet of our own day, who, having written a bitter satire against all the courtesan ladies, did not insert or name in it a certain lady of whom it was questionable whether she was one or not. She, seeing she was not in the list of the poet, asked him what he had seen in her that he did not include her in the number of the others, telling him he must add to his satire and put her in the new part, or else look out for the consequences. The poet did as she bade him, and left her without a shred of reputation, and she was satisfied by getting fame though it was infamy. In keeping with this is what they relate of that shepherd who set fire to the famous temple of Diana, by repute one of the seven wonders of the world, and burned it with the sole object of making his name live in after ages; and, though it was forbidden to name him, or mention his name by word of mouth or in writing, lest the object of his ambition should be attained, nevertheless it became known that he was called Erostratus. And something of the same sort is what happened in the case of the great emperor Charles V and a gentleman in Rome. The emperor was anxious to see that famous temple of the Rotunda, called in ancient times the temple 'of all the gods,' but now-a-days, by a better nomenclature, 'of all the saints,' which is the best preserved building of all those of pagan construction in Rome, and the one which best sustains the reputation of mighty works and magnificence of its founders. It is in the form of a half orange, of enormous dimensions, and well lighted, though no light penetrates it save that which is admitted by a window, or rather round skylight, at the top; and it was from this that the emperor examined the building. A Roman gentleman stood by his side and explained to him the skilful construction and ingenuity of the vast fabric and its wonderful architecture, and when they had left the skylight he said to the emperor, 'A thousand times, your Sacred Majesty, the impulse came upon me to seize your Majesty in my arms and fling myself down from yonder skylight, so as to leave behind me in the world a name that would last for ever.' 'I am thankful to you for not carrying such an evil thought into effect,' said the emperor, 'and I shall give you no opportunity in future of again putting your loyalty to the test; and I therefore forbid you ever to speak to me or to be where I am; and he followed up these words by bestowing a liberal bounty upon him. My meaning is, Sancho, that the desire of acquiring fame is a very powerful motive. What, thinkest thou, was it that flung Horatius in full armour down from the bridge into the depths of the Tiber? What burned the hand and arm of Mutius? What impelled Curtius to plunge into the deep burning gulf that opened in the midst of Rome? What, in opposition to all the omens that declared against him, made Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon? And to come to more modern examples, what scuttled the ships, and left stranded and cut off the gallant Spaniards under the command of the most courteous Cortes in the New World? All these and a variety of other great exploits are, were and will be, the work of fame that mortals desire as a reward and a portion of the immortality their famous deeds deserve; though we Catholic Christians and knights-errant look more to that future glory that is everlasting in the ethereal regions of heaven than to the vanity of the fame that is to be acquired in this present transitory life; a fame that, however long it may last, must after all end with the world itself, which has its own appointed end. So that, O Sancho, in what we do we must not overpass the bounds which the Christian religion we profess has assigned to us. We have to slay pride in giants, envy by generosity and nobleness of heart, anger by calmness of demeanour and equanimity, gluttony and sloth by the spareness of our diet and the length of our vigils, lust and lewdness by the loyalty we preserve to those whom we have made the mistresses of our thoughts, indolence by traversing the world in all directions seeking opportunities of making ourselves, besides Christians, famous knights. Such, Sancho, are the means by which we reach those extremes of praise that fair fame carries with it.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Don Quijote (Don Quixote)
(II, viii)

34 comments:

Muv said...

The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford.

Pacy plot, keenly observed characterisation, flowing style, unabashedly Catholic, and she hits Truth in Chapter 5. Out of the mouths of babes.

Supertradmum said...

Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson. Have read it three times and it is online as well. Nicer to read in book format, of course

PiusLad said...

Anything by Henry Sienkiewicz . . . most famous for Quo Vadis?, but his Polish novels -- including "Knights of the Cross" and his "Trilogy" ("With Fire and Sword", "The Deluge", "Pan Michael") are brilliant, deeply Catholic, historical epics.

Brother Juniper said...

I just finished Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church by Scott Hahn.

The Early Church (and Jesus himself) used the phrase "New Testament" not to refer to the book, but to the sacrament. The book became known as the "New Testament" only because of its proximity to the sacrament. The books of the New Testament are liturgical, created to be the books approved to be read at Mass.

Also, I know very little about Covenants and traditional Jewish Sacrifices (other than the Eucharist), this book helped me develop at least a little knowledge of these.

Also, if I may parapharse Samuel Johnson, this book is the perfect size for reading, easily carried and held.

ostrich said...

Fr Martin Cochem's Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass available on www.archive.org

Michael Ortiz said...


"The Life of the Mind", by James V. Schall, SJ.

One of the last great Jesuits; his love for reality, the Faith, and long walks, big books, and the joy of living for God is inspiring.

Stephen Lowe said...

Love benson and sienkiewicz, going to read a little graham Greene this summer, starting wit 'The End of the Affair'.

Adfero said...

The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest by John Gerard.

Jack Tollers said...

Maybe some American reader will be intrigued with the work of Fr Leonardo Castellani, a brilliant Argentine Jesuit, whose work I've translated and that you can freely download from here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/174468

Jack Tollers

JM said...

Three older and one new ...

The Words of the Missal, CC Martindale
The Old Rite, examined as exactingly relevant to daily life.

God & the Supernatural, Martin D'Arcy et al
Essays from famous preconciliar names on doctrinal themes handled in thoughtful, thomistic style.

The Saw His Glory, Maisie Ward
Essays on the New Testament handled to engender both renewed admiration and devotion.

Weakness is the Way, J.I. Packer
The challenge of increased years and diminished capabilities, from the pen of the most helpful and stylistically elegant Protestant spokesmen of the last fifty years.

Alphonsus Jr. said...

http://angeluspress.org/Consecration-To-Mary?keyword=consecration

This book contains everything you need to make the 33-day preparation for the consecration to Mary according to the method of St. Louis de Montfort, including…

-Holy Scripture
-The Imitation of Christ
-True Devotion to Mary
-The Love of Eternal Wisdom
-The Secret of the Rosary
-The Secret of Mary
-Letter to the Friends of the Cross

The perfect guide to preparing for and making your consecration and so much more! You will return to it again and again as a source of meditation, for spiritual guidance, and as a regular prayer book to increase your love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

That’s why readers continue to call this “an excellent and invaluable book,” which “provided me with an intimate relationship with Mary that was so desperately needed.”

There is perhaps no more perfect devotion to Mary than a complete and total consecration, and this book is the perfect book to help you achieve that!

“Give me some share of the sentiments of gratitude, esteem, respect and love, which Thou has in regard to Thy holy Mother, so that the more I imitate and follower her, the more I may love and glorify Thee”

– St. Louis de Montfort

Capreolus said...

"The Cypresses Believe in God"--beautiful and unforgettable account of the beginnings of the Spanish Civil War.

"Kristin Lavransdatter"--a masterpiece of historical fiction, i.e. the life of a Catholic woman in 14th cent. Sweden.

Finally, "The Big Sky" by A. B. Guthrie--one of the finest historical novels I have EVER read.

--Fr. Capreolus

Long-Skirts said...

"Three Who Ventured" & "Mr. Blue" by Myles Connolly

JRB said...

"Sword of Honour" by Evelyn Waugh.

backtothefuture said...

About to read Michael Davies "Pope Paul's mass". Really anything Michael Davies is great.

e7082e9e-d061-11e2-9ca3-000f20980440 said...

Restoring the Bastions: The Church Militant at War

by Fr. Dominic Mary of the Pillar, O.P.

Liam Ronan said...

"Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh
"The Heart of the Matter" by Graham Greene
Anything by G.K. Chesterton, Flannery O'Connor, or Pope Benedict XVI
"Will Many be Saved?" by Ralph Martin
and...mea culpa..."The Great Gatsby" (again!) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mark Gurtner said...

Saint Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh One of the best books ever written in my estimation. Most informative as to what was at the root of the English reformation: money and power. Seemingly had very little to do with theological dispute.

Edward More said...

"Dialogue of comfort against tribulation"
St Thomas More, written at the tower of London awaiting execution.

Forward! They are Ours! said...

This is my list:

--Marcel Lefebrve: A Biography (by Tissier de Mallerais)

--Liberty, The God that Failed (by Christopher Ferrara)

--Work of Human Hands (by Anthony Cekada)

--Money Manipulation and Social Order (by Denis Fahey)

stmykearchangel said...

Puritans Empire by Charles Coulombe

Liam Ronan said...

@Forward! They are Ours! You've reminded me of two other books:
"The Fourth Secret of Fatima" by Antonio Socci
"The Secret Still Hidden" by Christopher Ferrara

John said...

So many good recommendations already; you've got your summer's worth and the day isn't over yet. I second the motion on Fr Gerard's "Autobiography of Hunted Priest". Both exciting and inspiring. There's a new printing out now but I still have my old paperback Image edition -- $2.95 new a half century ago and I thought it expensive.

"Kristin Lavransdatter" is well-worth the read, too. My recollection is that Sigrid Undset in writing and researching the books (there are 3 volumes) ended up converting herself to Catholicism. There are a couple of translations. The earlier one for some reason chose to translate modern (early 20th century) Swedish into a sort of faux Olde English. It's very odd. Unless you have an affinity for that sort of thing, I would look for the newer translation, which, IIRC, is put out by Penguin.

"Sword of Honour" is another favourite. It's a trilogy, too, but Modern Library has a nice one volume hardback edition for not too much money. Be careful, though. It'll break your heart. Too much truth about the modern age. But I suppose if you frequent this blog, you'll be used to that by now.

And, indeed, you can't go wrong with Michael Davies. It may be overstating the case to say that he saved my faith. But he certainly strengthened it no end.

My own little contributions to the proceedings are to recommend the early novels of Bruce Marshall. He wrote well into the 1980's and those may be fine, too, but I haven't read them. But try "The World, the Flesh, and Fr Smith", "Vespers in Vienna", or "Fr Malachy's Miracle". They'll never be classics the way Waugh and Undset are but they are a window into a Catholic world that's vanished.

For much the same reason, try Agnes Repplier's "In Our Convent Days". It's a memoir of her convent boarding school days as a young girl (probably about 9 or 10) in the 19th century. Humourous and affectionate and not too sentimental.

Cheers,

-John-

Ospite said...

For the summer: 'The Autobiography of Dina Belanger', 3rd edition, Religious of Jesus-Mary (Sillery 1995).

For an Indian summer (the book is still in the press):
'Tu, il mio piccolo Io' (in Italian - an English translation would be a very worthwhile project; anybody interested, please let me know).
"You, my little I": that's how Jesus called Dina Belanger for her being so completely like Him, and that's how Brunero Gherardini titled his historical reconstruction of Dina's life. Drawing from her autobiography and the records of her beatification process, Gherardini shows that Dina's mystical experiences are real; further, that she became a saint because of her availability to Jesus and her fidelity to her daily duties; finally, that Dina had reached a deep union with God even before entering the convent, when she was a young lady of the best Canadian bourgeoisie and an accomplished pianist. The message is clear: holiness is for all, here and now.

Luciana Cuppo

Watcher said...

The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP.


"This work represents the summary of a course in ascetical and mystical theology which we have been giving for twenty years at the Angelicum in Rome."-from the Preface.


Having found this work has been like hitting the spiritual jackpot!

Unknown said...

I don't listen to, or read from, Scot Hahn--hater of the TLM.

But to keep things fun, here are a couple of good beach reads:

--Old Man and the Sea--Ernest Hemingway. Very short read (a novelette), but absolutely magnificent.

--Short stories of James Joyce. He IS the new Shakespeare.-"The snow is falling softly, and softly falling, on the living and the dead" is one of my favorite quotes.



David Werling said...

This is going to sound like a rather strange suggestion coming from me, but... everyone should step out of their comfort zone every once in a while: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion (a self-proclaimed atheist, but he's not a very good one).

If you don't have a thick skin, or are scandalized too easily, by all means ignore this suggestion. However, if you can overcome our shared xenophobic tendencies, and if you want to get the pulse of pop-culture's struggle with itself, this novel can be rather revealing.

Unknown said...

100 Years of Modernism, Fr Dominic Boumaud



RJH

Jacob said...

My recommendation is the English translation of the Quixote by the Cervantes scholar Tom Lathrop. I am within one hundred pages of the end of part II and it has been a most enjoyable and easy read.

Athanasius said...

I would recommend:

The Morality of the Exterior act in St. Thomas:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Morality-Exterior-Act-Writings/dp/0615788963/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1370874084&sr=8-4&keywords=fr+ripperger

The metaphysics of evolution
http://www.amazon.com/The-Metaphysics-Evolution-Chad-Ripperger/dp/3848216256/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_3

The Binding Force of Tradition
http://www.amazon.com/Binding-Force-Tradition-Chad-Ripperger/dp/0615785557/ref=pd_sim_b_1

all by Fr. Ripperger.

Mike said...

I'm always grateful to learn about so many wonderful books each time Rorate offers us the chance to chime in with our book ideas! I'm about to begin my yearly June reading of Bernanos' Diary of a Country Priest. Not sure why I chose June, but no matter! This year marks my twelfth reading, and I never fail to find something there I'd missed before. All of Bernanos' books are praiseworthy, but there is something extraordinarily special about this one. I find myself marking the progress of my spiritual life across the years, especially the work of humility - in my case mostly my poverty in that area! Bresson's film is beguiling too, but the book brings new blessings with each reading.

Roberto Hope said...

For those who read Spanish and are interested in Mexican history, in how US' Manifest Destiny came about at Mexico's expense, in how Mexico has been a guinea pig in which liberalism, socialism, communism and atheism, has been tried by imposition from the outside, in spite of and against our Catholic tradition, I may suggest Nacimiento, Grandeza, Decadencia y Ruina de la Nación Mejicana, by Pedro Sánchez Ruiz, Editorial Honor y Fidelidad, 2005

St. Anne's Helper said...

I may be bookmarking this list.

These are the three I like to recommend to high school students and adults:

Garcia Moreno by Rev. Fr. Augustine Berthe

Garcia Moreno

Jim Fitzhenry's

El Cid

and

Saint Fernando III

Thank you for the interesting question.

Patrick Gray said...

Benson. One can learn as much as you would want to about the the secular, Deistic, humanistic modern age and the way we are going. God save us all!

Have you read 'Come Rack, Come Rope?' It's also written by Monsignor Benson and describes the sufferings of the recusants and a martyr priest in the Penal Years. Waugh's 'Edmund Campion' is a very edifying account of that great Saint. I find the accounts of the recusants, the accounts of our martyrs, their fortitude in faith and the survival of God's Church and the Mass in England, my own country, a great comfort in these terrible modern times. May we all acquit ourselves so as not to shame ourselves before these martyrs - may we all acquit ourselves as well against the Modern Age in Arms.