Jesuits : a multibiography /

Main Author: Lacouture, Jean.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Washington, D.C. : Counterpoint, c1995.
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Review by Booklist Review

Quite apart from its obvious appeal as an informative history of the Jesuit order, this "multibiography" (first published in French in 1991) is a collection of entertaining stories that will appeal even to audiences that do not have a special interest in Jesuit history. The historical development of the Society of Jesus since its sixteenth-century inception coincides so closely with the history of European expansion that a thorough account of the Jesuits has world historical significance--particularly to the extent that prominent Jesuits were trailblazers in a gradual shift from a straightforward Christian apologetics of conquest to reflection on the significance of cultural contact. Insofar as particular stories of particular people and places are the best sources of global insight, this is an especially valuable work. It includes a helpful chronology and an excellent basic bibliography (weighted toward French sources but still useful in English) for readers who wish to pursue more specialized research. --Steve Schroeder

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Follows 500 years of the order, from its founding by Saint Ignatius to the present, by depicting its most influential members. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Lacouture, a French journalist and biographer (De Gaulle. Vol. 1: The Rebel, 1890-1944, LJ 11/15/90), here presents a series of biographies of prominent Jesuits from the founder, Ignatius of Loyola, down to such modern disciples as Karl Rahner, Daniel Berrigan, and Robert Drinan. Condensed from the two-volume French original, the translation is marred by some inaccuracies and poor word choices. Showing a definite liberal bias and offering anachronistic criticisms, Lacouture writes in an abrasive, journalistic style, speaking of "Church busybodies" and "the noises coming out of Rome," and making no bones about the fact that he disagrees with the exclusion of women from the Roman Catholic priesthood. At the end, Lacouture raises the question of why men would choose to be Jesuits and cannot answer it. He offers a lot of interesting facts but little understanding. Suitable only for the most comprehensive collections.‘Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A tour de force narrative history that provides readers with detailed and engrossing biographies of several notable Jesuits. French journalist Lacouture (De Gaulle, 1992, etc.) has crafted an original approach to Jesuit history here. Instead of following a traditional, chronological history of the Society of Jesus, he has chosen to provide a ``multibiography'' that emphasizes the contributions of a few innovators, including the movement's founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola. Lacouture has been quixotic in his sampling, choosing occasionally to highlight some obscure, understudied Jesuit in lieu of a more celebrated priest. But despite the eclectic nature of his foci, Lacouture proves he is no dilettante. The result is a nearly perfect blend of stories from various cultures, and the author, a gifted raconteur, is always passionate about his subject matter. He challenges the widely held stereotype that the Society was driven solely by blind obedience to Rome and instead explores the Jesuits' evolving commitments to syncretism and cultural exchange. As the Society founded missions in diverse cultures, Lacouture maintains, it abandoned much of its absolutism in favor of a Christianity that would adapt to its surroundings and ``be all things to all men.'' Lacouture traces the development of Jesuit missions in regions as far-flung as Japan, India, and Paraguay and demonstrates a surprisingly profound knowledge of non-European histories. He also reveals some of the ``forgotten'' history of the Jesuit movement, such as the short- lived attempt to establish a sister order in the 16th century. Lacouture's historical reconstructions are greatly enhanced by his prolific use of diaries, memoirs, and letters. That the book is so well-written is pleasantly surprising, since it has been translated and abridged from the bestselling two-volume French edition. Beautifully told, with an occasional dose of sardonic humor, Lacouture's well-crafted ``multibiography'' is destined to become a classic of Jesuit studies. (16 pages b&w photos)

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