Synopses & Reviews
Featured in "The Millions" A year in Reading, Nick Ripatrazone.
"Each year I read more books than I can possibly review here are 5 of the finest and most memorable of that bunch. They are worth your money, your time, and your attention.Charles of the Desert
A book of poems that fictionalizes the life of Trappist monkCharles de Foucauld. Beautiful verse, full of pieces like The Pangs of Wanting: I deliver my body to the church, / though I cannot imagine what penance might relieve / these pangs of wanting. Later: I take first communion My tongue licks up the bread: a whisper / of paper on my teeth His torn body in my stomach, / his blood in my spit, I almost vomit; I almost sing. More collections about God like this one would be very welcomed." Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
is a novel-in-verse accompanying Charles de Foucauld, hermit and writer of The Prayer of Abandonment, as he explores and adapts desert spirituality, monasticism, and contemplative prayer. Charles is an unusual and compelling figure and Charles of the Desert
is unusual and compelling as well -- different from nonfiction books which focus on instructing in or explaining these subjects. It also explores Charles profound respect for Muslims, his pioneering efforts at interfaith dialogue, and his commitment to live among Muslims as a universal brother known for his compassion and solidarity.
Born in 1858 to a family of French aristocrats, Charles was torn between his ambition to do great things and his desire for the hidden life, between public service and private prayer. Charles of the Desert
uses elements of fiction and poetry to follow him to Morocco, Syria, Israel, and Algeria, as he becomes a cavalry officer, explorer, geographer, pilgrim, Trappist monk, priest, abolitionist, translator, folklorist, hermit, fort-builder, and martyr. Throughout these travels and transformations, Charles searched for a vocation that would reflect his convictions and his experience of God. In his last fifteen years, he settled in a remote part of the Sahara, and focused on self-denial, contemplation, and charity. He claimed the nomadic Tuareg as his brothers, the desert as his earthly home."