Talking of which…

Catholic novelists (and please do correct me if I’m wrong):

Evelyn Waugh: drank heavily, took a lot of tranquilizers, once suffered a psychic break of sorts.

Walker Percy: drank rather a bit (see his essay “Bourbon”), struggled with depression

J.F. Powers: dunno much, but he was certainly grumpy: he once said, “Betty and I weren’t meant to have children. Our mistake was getting mixed up in that Catholic business called Family Life years ago. That was for farmers, not for us, but we didn’t know any better.” And also: “There isn’t anything the Church can do that it hasn’t already done to disillusion me, but I still think it’s it.”

Graham Greene: barely hung on to faith, drank rather a bit, spent the last few decades of his life with a couple of women other than his wife.

Flannery O’Connor: seems clean – there’s one in every crowd.

And yet, we cast our lots with these souls – and rightly so, I think. They saw things.


  1. Cubeland Mystic says

    What do you mean by drank heavily? Are you implying that there is something wrong here?

  2. AnotherCoward says

    drank heavily == drunkard?

  3. Notrelatedtoted says

    I think it’s clear what you need to do: get drunk and go crazy.

    You’re the Waugh expert ’round these parts: but I thought he sort of cleaned up and got his act together in later life? No? Greene seemed to only get more troubled as he got older. And I think his faith suffered for it.

    It would be interesting to compare their work side-by-side with their biographies….

  4. Adam DeVille says

    I would not say that Waugh really cleaned up his act later in life. After his scare with hallucinations on a cruise in the late 1950s (which experience became the basis for the admittedly autobiographical *Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold*), when he honestly thought he was possessed and sought an exorcism after his return, his wife had the good sense to send for a friend who was both an orthodox Catholic and a psychiatrist, who diagnosed at once that Waugh was suffering from gradual poisoning due to over-reliance on chloral-based sleeping draughts (which Waugh took carelessly and liberally well in excess of safe doses, and often mixed with creme de menthe!). He took him off those, put him on some others, and Waugh returned to normal.

    I don’t know about the state of his soul, of course, but by the end of his life, he seems to me to have been even more depressed than before with, inter alia, the marriage of his beloved daughter Meg to a commoner, and especially the changes in the Church. He said that Vatican II “knocked the stuffing out of me” and he only resisted soaking himself in petrol and going up in flames because it was a sin. In short, he had so little joy that by the time he died on Easter Sunday 1966 (at the age of 63), all his family and friends said it was a blessing, that he welcomed death because he had simply grown tired of life.

  5. Matthew Lickona says

    Thanks, Adam.

  6. Notrelatedtoted says

    Ditto, Adam.

  7. Jeff Miller says

    Belloc could easily be on your list.

  8. Matthew Lickona says

    I’m woefully ignorant on that score, but thanks. Heck, let’s expand the list! Anybody else?

  9. my fav. is Léon Bloy (Padrino to Jacques and Raissa Maritain)… wrote La Femme Pauvre (the woman who was poor) and The Desparate One.

    His journals are really where he is at, though, but I really love his novels, too (although they are not quite as masterful as Bernanos, but Bernanos is Bernanos, after all).

    Although, _Under Satan’s Sun_ kind of freaked me out, but I was freakin’ out at the time anyway. It left me exhausted, and kind of dry… but I guess that is good, eh?

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