Monday, February 15, 2010
Medieval Historical Fiction: The Holy Sinner
The Holy Sinner by Thomas Mann
Mann's novel is based on the medieval Gregorius legends. I did not look Gregorius up carefully enough beforehand, so I didn't realize that the legends are sort of what V. C. Andrews would have come up with, had she been a medieval storyteller. The legend is itself based on the story of Oedipus and is meant to show the infinite goodness and forgiveness of God. No matter how awful your sins may be, if you repent you can be forgiven--though your penance may involve living on a rock and turning into a hedgehog for a while.
Mann writes as if he is a medieval chronicler, which can be a little tiring and repetitive, but it's suited to the story. Every so often, characters fall into rhymed verse as they describe some dramatic incident.
I have never read Thomas Mann before, and always kind of meant to, so when my brother Tom suggested this title for the historical fiction category I thought I'd give it a try. Yeah, thanks a lot Tom. It was better written than most popular historical fiction, though, and I didn't have the problem where the protagonist is really a modern person who will rebel and live as she pleases while saving the ignorant masses. I plan on trying The Magic Mountain next, but I don't think I'll read this one again.