From Dostoevsky to Trollope, from anguished spiritual quests to social comedies, the novelist ordains the best fictional clericsFrom Friar Tuck to Father Ted, clergy occupy a special place in popular culture. Even the most anticlerical reader is likely to have a favourite fictional priest, if only in childhood memories of Roald Dahl’s Vicar of Nibbleswicke.Although in recent years polemics against religion have eclipsed novels about religious life in both bestseller lists and media discourse, there remains a huge range of literary work featuring clergy, from Sloth, the drunken priest in William Langland’s Piers Plowman, and the Monk, Friar, Pardoner and Parson in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, to Father Ralph de Bricassart in Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds and Father Lankester Merrin in William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.I myself have written about a variety of clerical figures, from a spiritually and sexually confused ordinand in The Celibate, a liberal vicar and his Christ-like curate in Easter, through an apostate bishop in The Enemy of the Good, to my current protagonist, an English missionary priest who fights oppression in Marcos’s Philippines in The Breath of Night.In accordance with the diversity of beliefs featured in my own work, I have been deliberately ecumenical in …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books