Morte D'Urban

Morte D Urban Winner of The 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 t

  • Title: Morte D'Urban
  • Author: J.F. Powers Elizabeth Hardwick
  • ISBN: 9780940322233
  • Page: 351
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 thWinner 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.

    One thought on “Morte D'Urban”

    1. If you were brought up Catholic like me [1], you know that—even though you may turn your back on all of it when you finally come to your senses—a lot of it stays with you. And I'm not talking about the beliefs. Those are pure Medievalism, easily dismissible. What I'm talking about is the basic underlying structure of ritualized guilt and repression. You know, the fun stuff. But no matter how much I try to scrub my psyche clean, to expunge the last stubborn residue of Catholicism, I will alwa [...]

    2. This 1963 National Book Award winner is about a group of Catholic Priests. An Order of Clementines? Yes, thank you, Marcel. And if you read it at one level, it is about the politics of groups. Power and pettiness. Ability and purpose. I wondered if a similar book could be written about Tibetan monks. At another level, this book is a character study, in particular of Father Urban. Urban is smooth. Smooooth. Great preacher, and much in demand for that. But he also is great at finding where the mon [...]

    3. If you want to take this novel literally and say it is a book about the adventures of an ambitious priest (not unlike a Catholic Elmer Gantry of sorts) who was exiled to the middle of nowhere, be my guest, but it doesn't take long before you realize there is something else going on here and it begins to dawn on you that is all sounds remotely like your job!Congratulations, my friend, you've reached the AHA moment.It's a difficult book to find (I think it's out of print but your library may hav [...]

    4. whoever it was who put the huge b&w early-60s italian-glamour photo of the beautiful woman on the cover of this book was a genius, and i want to thank him for doing it, because otherwise i would never have picked it up, much less read it. seeing how it's yet another very quiet (and quietly funny) realistic portrait of an isolated priest in the midwest. not the usual vein i mine.i'm not really sure how powers does it. but Wheat That Springeth Green is now firmly in my top 15-20 favorite books [...]

    5. Morte d’Urban is a Catholic novel by a Catholic author, but it’s also a singularly American novel. It’s about going to work. Think inept colleagues, vindictive superiors, fruitless and boring busywork. Our protagonist Father Urban – successful, charming, handsome – is a traveling salesman out of Chicago for the fictional Order of St. Clement. He enjoys a cigar and stiff drink, sports cars, “the right sort of people”, golf. Critics often compare him to Babbitt, but that’s not righ [...]

    6. The book to show the world what a sentimental sap Garrison Keiller really is. Morte D'Urban, won the National Book Award in 1961, is set, as is Lake Woebegone, in Sterns County, Minnesota. Both use Holdingford, a small farm town where my grandfather owned the hardware store, and its inhabitants as fodder for their fictions. Powers has one of the best ears in vernacular fiction, sufficiently so for Evelyn Waugh to cite him as his favorite American writer. He may be mine, given my familiarity with [...]

    7. I had not heard of this author before. I read the novel because it won the National Book Award in 1963. This award was created in 1950 and I have read all the winning books from then up through 1963. Many were great; some challenged my idea of what I consider a great novel. Morte D'Urban, the third novel concerning priests from my 1963 list, was a stand out.Father Urban is quite a character. I am a bit hazy on how he became a priest. It was well explained in the novel but I just don't remember i [...]

    8. It's a little difficult to get into a book following a brother of the order of St. Clement through dioscesan politics and secular fundraising in the midwest of the late 50s/early 60s. For one thing, the tone of the book, especially the dialogue, really makes me picture every character both looking and sounding like Harry Truman. Give Harry Truman a Roman collar, put him in the passenger seat of a huge bucketous Cadillac, and we can call it a day. For another, the church depicted here doesn't rea [...]

    9. It would be tough to imagine a more boring book. "Comic masterpiece?" I never even chortled. An unusual stinker in an interesting collection, this one proves that some books should stay forgotten. None of the stories tend in any direction and the self-satisfaction of the bloated narrator, full with Sunday dinner and a nice brandy and cigar was a bit too much to take. I'd take Graham Greene's exaggerated but real prose any day of the week over this lifeless, bland thing. It was interesting seeing [...]

    10. I got this book from Paperback Swap after reading about JF Powers in a book called The Catholic Writer. This was one of only two novels he wrote -- he was mostly known as a writer of short stories. For more about him, you can read here firstthings/onthesquar and here magazine.nd/news/17697-men.Morte D'Urban tells the story of Harvey Roche, who becomes Father Urban of the fictional Clementine order, a sort of discount version of the Jesuits without even a striking habit to distinguish them. The s [...]

    11. So this whole book is about the secular and political concerns of the Order of Clementine. I was not actually aware of the hierarchy (yeah, I knew there were bishops and archbishops, etc) and the political relationships between the orders.Urban is a great anti-hero. In the beginning we are led to believe that he is so charismatic and charming that he is capable of converting all he encounters and (more importantly) convincing them to make lots of donations. Certainly, through the course of the n [...]

    12. Morte D'Urban, like Catcher in the Rye, explores phonyness in post-war U.S. Compared to Salinger's classic, though, Morte D'Urban adopts a more adult if slightly more compromised view. Taking as its subject the business of operating the Catholic church, Morte D'Urban does a fantastically funny job describing the uncomfortable grooming of unsavory donors by the more worldly priests who understand the Church's need of them. Brilliantly, this book spells out the toll this mercenary relationship tak [...]

    13. DNFI went to the trouble of doing an interlibrary loan on this and really did try to finish reading it. After all it had won the 1963 National Book Award for fiction. I felt like I needed to read this, to justify the effort to procure it. But unfortunately that wasn't enough, I just didn't get it. Touted as humorous, I kept waiting. Not everyones cup of tea I guess.

    14. This was supposed to be a very big deal - good reviews from New Yorker, etc and it did have it moments. However, the main interest was some insight into the social and political life of catholic priests in the middle of the last century. Perhaps it was more shocking then. I did finish it, but that's about all I can say about it.

    15. Catholicism is darkly comic in J.F. Powers's Morte D'Urban - would that it were more comic, less dark, in the real worldSee the full review at newsoutherngentleman.wordpress - link available on my page. Thanks for stopping by!

    16. For a writer whose many stories and two novels focus to the exclusion of most all else on the lives of priests, J. F. Powers writes steady prose of sufficient sober heft as to keep his rendered worlds (not the least bit unfamiliar worlds) squarely grounded on terra firma. These are hardly works that delve into the inner life of the spiritual supplicant. Interiority is their field only in a limited sense, and the interior here faithfully reflects the exterior (the world of people, things, and the [...]

    17. I suppose one could glean a certain amount of satisfaction from recognizing that in any business or corporation -- in this instance, The Order of St. Clementine, a Catholic diocese in 1950's Chicago -- administrative incompetence and the perils and confusion of bureaucracy are alive and well. Poor Father Urban, a man too good for his job, is forced to work under men and systems either broken or willfully ignorant. Despite a steady stream of successes and a growing following of admirers, Father U [...]

    18. Wonderfully wry and knowing portrait of a Catholic priest laboring in the hinterlands. Powers is respectful and refreshingly non-ironic in sketching the life of Father Urban, a priest in a fictitious order. Father Urban never ceases to do his best to honor his heavenly father and carry out his calling despite an overwhelming and indifferent church bureaucracy and an equally indifferent and selfish flock. I wish there were more literary efforts that investigate the lives of sincere believers. Thi [...]

    19. This is a gentle, slow-moving story of a bon vivant Catholic priest in mid-50s (?) midwest America, and the foibles and flaws of his colleagues in the backwaters of the Order of St Clementine as they try to manage their affairs. The humour is rather dry and indirect, to the point of obscurity at times, and the story drags in places. Some characters seem important for awhile, then disappear without another word. It's uneven and the ending is somehow out of character with the rest and weakly anti- [...]

    20. I really don't know why I stayed with this book. I felt like I was slogging through it, fighting for every chapter I read. I think the Minnesota location was one of the reasons I was drawn to this book. I do have to concede that I did care about the fate of Father Urban. Unfortunately the ending left me feeling flatl that effort and very little to show for it. I will have to admit that there were times when it was amusing, but not enough times to make reading 3oo pages of small print worth it.

    21. A satire of the Catholic Church featuring Father Urban a priest from the fictitious religious order of the Clementines, a mediocre order with no distinctions to its credit. The story illustrates the all too real fact of the all too humanness of the priests with all of the same faults as any layperson. My only criticism is that the author, at times, stretched to far to be funny and the joke fell flat.

    22. Funny if you like Catholicism. Priest tries to improve a dysfunctional religious sect and is met with various challenges as he is relocated from Chicago to rural Minnesota. That’s it. I read this because it won a National Book Award, I think

    23. Petty squabbles, intense emotions and condescension shouldn't be a part of the cloistered life.but they are.

    24. What a wonderful portrayal of the inner workings of the priesthood. Father Urban goes from being successful in a worldly sense to a man of God.

    25. A Subtle, Deceptively Simple BookJ. F. Powers' Morte d'Urban, the winner of the National Book Award for 1963, has featured among the favorite books of several other writers and one can see why. This gentle comedy about a Catholic priest in the fifties is a descendant of works like Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt or Elmer Gantry, but is told in the much quieter Midwestern manner of John Williams' Stoner, another sleeper of a novel that has gradually acquired an admiring readership. It is a book to read s [...]

    26. The copyright dates on this book run from 1956 to 1962. I'm not sure if that means there were stories, or excerpts, or an early edition published before 1962, but the publication date seems to be 1962.The story is that of a Catholic priest, Father Urban, and his struggles to make some progress for himself and for his order, the Clementines. It's told within the frame of reference of the priesthood but deals with very practical matters. Father Urban is a bright, charming man, very sensitive to th [...]

    27. Reputed over-looked book, from the 1960's - book group selection for March.Odd read. Fine beginning, might've been better with much of the middle edited and published as a novella rather than a novel. With the right casting, it could make a very entertaining movie.A bit along the lines of confederacy of dunces in the priesthood of the upper midwest in the waning days of the Catholic world pre-Vatican II Catholic (late 50's early '60's). A world gone by, as told by an overly self-confident, self- [...]

    28. This unduly neglected book won the National Book Award in 1963. It is the story of Father Urban, a Catholic Priest in the little known (and fictitious) religious order of the Clementines. It takes place in Chicago, where Father Urban is headquartered as the "star" and best known speaker in the Order. He is also something of a fund-raiser with a wealthy, arrogant benefactor named Billy. Father Urban is transferred to a remote town in Minnesota, Duesterhaus, shortly after the novel begins as a res [...]

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