BROTHER JACOB by Henrik Stangerup


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 Danish writer Stangerup completes a trilogy here--a set of works based on Kierkegaard's understanding of the Tripartite Man. The Road to Lagoa Santa (1984) represented, with its main character Peter Lund, the ``ethical man''; Peter Moller in The Seducer (1990) stood in for the ``aesthetical man''; and now Stangerup comes to the ``religious man''--choosing not Kierkegaard himself (too daunting) but the 16th-century Franciscan Brother Jacob, son of Queen Christine and King Hans of Denmark. When Lutheranism topples the Catholic monarchy, the monasteries are closed and the monks go underground or leave the country. Jacob, an especially independent-minded man, can't see himself yoked to the sterility of the monastic orders in Italy or Spain yet can't abide the Reformation either--and so, in search of Utopia, he goes to Mexico. There, his kindness to and deep understanding of the Taraskan Indians makes him a saint in their eyes; when he dies, he's spirited away by the Indians, his burial place to this day a carefully guarded secret. Stangerup is a sedulous historical writer, with every i dotted and every t crossed authentically, but he is overgiven to summary and flatness. These three books make an unassailable case for Danish identity in history, but their good intentions (the Kierkegaard scheme) are never quite realized into fiction of special immediacy or high relief.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-7145-2948-6
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Marion Boyars
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993