This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.Download Description
No such throng had ever before been seen in the building during all its eight years of existence.People were wedged together most uncomfortably upon the seats; they stood packed in the aisles and overflowed the galleries; at the back, in the shadows underneath these galleries, they formed broad, dense masses about the doors, through which it would be hopeless to attempt a passage. ... Read more
Customer Reviews (13)
Difficult to get through
This book was good although extremely hard to read and get through.I only finished it because it was for book club.I would not recommend this classic.
Illumination (1896) has been an underground classic among serious writers and readers since its publication. Although it sold well in its day, it was largely lost to mainstream attention for most of the 20th century. Only in the 1980s did it first start appearing in school settings with the first critical edition by Nebraska Press (and Penguin Press editions around the same time). It has been called an "American classic" by more than one critic and writer.
First, an explanation of the odd title. Frederic intended the title to be simply "Illumination", which it was indeed published as in England, but due to some mis-communication at his (soon to be bankrupt) American publishers - a working draft had the internal working name of "damnation" - it was mistakingly published as "The Damnation of Theron Ware". Later publishers in the 1930s then combined the two into the full title "The Damnation of Theron Ware, Or, Illumination".
This is an important novel and can be critically approached from a number of perspectives. Probably most important and timeless (c.f. Richard Dawkins "The God Delusion" (2006)) is Theron Ware's "Illumination" about truth in religion. Is the value of religion based on the belief in a real God, or just a belief in a god that may not even exist - the existence of which doesn't matter - the value in religion comes from _pretending_ to believe. It is unclear in the end if Sister Soulsby, Forbes and others truly believe, or just pretend to believe, and if it even matters.
The narrative technique of writing from Theron's perspective, hearing in the first person about his own "Illumination" and personal growth (a positive healthy thing it seems to him) - which is then re-played at the end of the novel from other peoples perspective, is very powerful and well crafted. It really makes the reader examine times in their own lives when they thought they were on the right and true path. It has a certain Rashomon theme of subjectivity and what is the truth of events from multiple perspectives.
This sleeper classic tops most books written today
Although I was a lit major, this book was never on any of my reading lists in college. I chanced upon it when it appeared on my son's required reading for a course..and wow, am I glad I did! It should be a classic, have no idea why it isn't, if only for the detail and insight about church politics and the workings of congregations in the 1800s.
This gem of a novel focuses on Theron Ware, a Methodist minister who has had a less than stellar career, which leads to his current posting in a small, backcountry town. He vows to make a new start and, for a time, things seem to go well. But alas, Theron is less certain than he appears, making him easy prey to those with questionable values and setting him on a parth towards destruction. For the first time in his life, Theron questions his calling, his values and even his marriage.
I couldn't wait to see how this one would end..and I won't give the ending away here. I'll just say that if you pick up this one, you won't be disaapointed.
Something to Remember Him By
Okay, granted. In some ways, this is pretty thin soup. A short novel, after all, and not by any stretch of the imagination a major novel, certainly not in the sense that Middlemarch or Ulysses are major. But I'd put this on a list of personal favorites. And there are certain second rate novels which for all their second-rateness should not be lost. Frederic lived not too long, accomplished not very much, saw not everything there was to be seen - but in this little fable of a Methodist preacher who never quite got the point, Frederic himself pretty much gets it right. Not a mean achievement for a lifetime, and so one not to be forgotten.
Although this is a Faustian tale, the redemption is not uncertain-it is completely absent. The much put out Theron faces his new future in the West as a hopeless innocent, only his wife expresses modest doubt about his re-education. Having succcessfully ruined the surprise ending, I can only suggest everyone find a copy of this wonderful novel, set aside a day, and read it straight through. An amazing work from an under appreciated author.
... Read more