by nicholas ripatrazone
wipf & stock, 202 pages, $23
Shortly after Robert Lowell’s conversion to Catholicism in 1941, he announced to his horrified wife, Jean Stafford, a lapsed Catholic, that he was instituting a new household regimen. Lowell’s biographer Ian Hamilton described it as “Mass in the morning, benediction in the evening, two rosaries a day. Reading matter was vetted for its ‘seriousness’‘no newspapers, no novels except Dostoevsky, Proust, James and Tolstoy.’”
Lowell, unlike many Catholic writers nowadays, did not fret over a lack of literary coreligioniststhe giants of the nineteenth and early twentieth century apparently sufficed for him. Today, though, many argue for the value of contemporaneous voices of faith.