God's Fool (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
It is with no small amount of irony that the 1980’s, a decade many already consider unparalleled for its acquisitiveness, should inspire Julien Green, the distinguished but underappreciated writer of fiction, to produce a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi. The best-seller status it achieved when it first appeared in 1983 with the title Frère François in neo-Socialist France is only slightly less curious. Even so, irony and curiosity have always attended Green’s career: He is an American writer many Americans have barely heard of, let alone have read; he is an expatriate who writes in French but who retains both his United States citizenship and a great love of the English language; he is the first American ever elected to the Académie Française. His past experience of artistic success and commercial failure must make the widespread acclaim received by this work of his old age seem ironic and bittersweet.
One argument for the relatively poor circulation of Green’s works in English translation is that his fellow Catholic convert and almost namesake Graham Greene covers much of the same literary territory. Both deal with the difficulty of faith and the darker side of self. Both seem convinced that potential for greatest saint or greatest sinner exists in every individual. Yet, the comparisons between Green and Greene, which extend beyond themes to affinity for France, are mostly incidental and another link in the chain of curiosities...
(The entire section is 1487 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
America. CLIII, November 23, 1985, p. 352.
Best Sellers. XLV, October, 1985, p. 258.
Booklist. LXXXII, September 1, 1985, p. 9.
Commonweal. CXII, October 4, 1985, p. 537.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, July 15, 1985, p. 692.
Library Journal. CX, September 15, 1985, p. 85.
National Catholic Reporter. XXI, November 22, 1985, p. 9.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, September 29, 1985, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVIII, August 2, 1985, p. 54.
Washington Post Book World. CVIII, September 24, 1985, p. 4.
(The entire section is 54 words.)