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Three Cheers for the Paraclete by Thomas…

Three Cheers for the Paraclete (1968)

by Thomas Keneally

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Three Cheers for the Paraclete is the latest in my quest to read and review all the Miles Franklin winners; it was Thomas Keneally’s second win, in 1968, and that win remains remarkable for being the only time the judges have awarded the prize to an author two years in succession. (Keneally had won it the previous year for Bring Larks and Heroes, see my review and the opening lines.)

But what makes Three Cheers for the Paraclete intrinsically remarkable is its theme. The blurb puts it better than I could do it myself:

Set in a Roman Catholic diocese today [i.e. the 1960s] Three Cheers for the Paraclete is about the dilemma of the rebel who knows that established authority is wrong but doesn’t know how to put it right because he is himself too much a part of it. It is also about a critical religious issue of today – the conflict between a new generation which sees religious truth as something that must change with the world, and an establishment which sees it fixed and immutable.

Half a century later, can we imagine any young Australian novelist daring to tackle the clash between dogmatic ideology and modernity within another major world religion? And can we imagine Miles Franklin judges having the courage to reward it? It’s a different world today…

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2015/09/19/three-cheers-for-the-paraclete-by-thomas-keneally/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 15, 2016 |
I checked out the meaning of 'Paraclete' in the Larousse. It means the 'Holy Ghost as comforter or advocate. An apt title then for this novel based in a Roman Catholic, religious House of Studies in the 1960's, where young James Maitland is considered a renegade and bad influence on this structured, cloistered community. There were some laugh out loud moments as he tries to convert them to a more modern approach. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jan 17, 2016 |
Some of the brilliant descriptions of Ecclesiatical institutional interiors --especially the quality of the light-- perfectly signify the mood and tone. Some of the 'set pieces' which James Maitland, in turn, confronts seem rather staged, and, at first sight, somewhat dated 40 yrs later. But some do not, and the general tension between eternal verities and a drift to modernism still persist, as any modern Roman Catholic journal testifies. It is hard to imagine any Catholic Bishop these days acting like like 'His Grace', but not impossible. I began to read this in the 70s when I first bought it, and never got anywhere. Perhaps I wasn't ready for it then. This time I read it through in a day, without stopping. ( )
  ChrisSterry | Jul 15, 2010 |
A kind of Lucky Jim for Australian catholics, this is a story of young priest trying to come to fit his own idea of his relationship to God with the institutional ideas that his elders want him to have. An enjoyable book, but not as good as Bring Larks and Heroes. ( )
  joe1402 | Feb 13, 2009 |
Miles Franklin Award winner 1968. Funny, warm and bitter. The experience of a priest in a religious community where tradition and canon law are ill equipped to deal with human failings.

One of the 2008 reprints of recent Australian writing from Vintage classics. ( )
  merry10 | Apr 28, 2008 |
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One Saturday evening, Maitland had to say Mass on a headland for a guild of graduates.
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From the moment he allows his young cousin and bride to spend the night in his room, Father Maitland causes raised eyebrows and dark mutterings amongst the brothers at St Peter's. Time and again his efforts to do the right thing for his fellow men lead him into conflict with his superiors and the immutable laws of the church - a conflict which ultimately threatens to destroy him both as a priest and as a man. Thomas Keneally's darkly satirical novel, which won him his second successive Miles Franklin Award resounds with intellect and humour.… (more)

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