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The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature
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The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature


Wipf & Stock 2013

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Gathering Interest


In The Fine Delight, former Rutgers-Newark fiction fellow Nicholas Ripatrazone offers insightful examinations of American Catholic literature in the postconciliar period. A graceful volume of literary criticism, this text reveals how “Catholic literature is an essential element in the faith experience, and a literature worthy of serious, and diverse, scholarship and inquiry.” Following a title inspired by a line from the final sonnet of Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, “To R. B.,” which says, “The fine delight that fathers thought,” Ripatrazone skillfully explores how Catholic literature can be that delight which provokes thoughtfulness. While The Fine Delight will bring some readers initial exposure to contemporary Catholic writers Ron Hansen, Andre Dubus, and Paul Mariani, more familiar readers will still benefit from this text’s extended critical examinations of their works. Ripatrazone also explores other voices in the contemporary canon of Catholic literature, such as Paul Lisicky, Anthony Carelli, Kaya Oakes, Joe Bonomo, Brian Doyle, Mary Biddinger, and others who offer “essential, diverse representations of faith.” Additionally, he provides a few atypical considerations of writers, including Jeffrey Eugenides and Don DeLillo. In The Fine Delight, Ripatrazone gives readers “not a pastoral guidebook; rather . . . [he offers] dramatizations of faith written by artists devoted to representing complexity rather than orthodoxy,” offering an overdue examination of the artistry of numerous contemporary Catholic writers.

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Key Features

  • Provides extended critical treatments of the work of Ron Hansen, Andre Dubus, and Paul Mariani
  • Offers exposure to many voices in contemporary Catholic literature
  • Includes a helpful introduction by the author, establishing background for the postconciliar period


  • Introduction: A New Language, A New Literature
  • Chapter One: The Catholic Literary Paradox
  • Chapter Two: Literary Mysticism: The Fiction and Essays of Ron Hansen
  • Chapter Three: A Literary Sacrament: The Fiction and Essays of Andre Dubus
  • Chapter Four: Hopkins Channeled: The Poetry and Essays of Paul Mariani
  • Chapter Five: Interrogating Tradition: Contemporary Catholic Voices
  • Chapter Six: Priest, Writer, Catholic: The New Postconciliar Trinity

Praise for the Print Edition

Where are all the Catholic writers? is a popular question these days. In his beautifully realized new book The Fine Delight, Nicholas Ripatrazone offers an answer: they are among us, writing. With skill and care, he explores the artistry of three superb writers—Ron Hansen, Paul Mariani, and Andre Dubus—as well as several other contemporary Catholic authors. In the process he reveals . . . how reading can be sacramental, enabling us to discover God’s presence in our modern world.

—James Martin, SJ, author, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

The Fine Delight is a text of scholarship and personal consideration of American literature that is marked by and built from postconciliar Catholic thought. Nicholas Ripatrazone has written a highly readable study of the work of writers whose beliefs vary widely, but who share a living engagement with the Word. This book itself is just such an engagement. It will inspire more informed and curious reading.

—Alice Elliott Dark, author, In the Gloaming: Stories

Nicholas Ripatrazone offers an insightful interrogation into the theological and aesthetic strategies of contemporary Catholic writers—novelists, poets, and essayists writing in the last fifty years. Aware that the Catholic imagination is not static, he suggests helpful ways to understand how post-Vatican II writers situate their faith in light of their artistic vision. A timely book, Ripatrazone helps extend the critical and pastoral implications of a Catholic literary aesthetic.

—Mark Bosco, SJ, author, Graham Greene’s Catholic Imagination

Product Details

  • Title: The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature
  • Author: Nicholas Ripatrazone
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 202

About the Author

Nicholas Ripatrazone received his BA in creative writing from Susquehanna University, and graduate degrees in English and Creative writing from Rutgers-Newark, where he was a fiction fellow. He teaches literature at Rutgers University. He is the author of Oblations (prose poems, 2011), This Is Not About Birds (poems, 2012), and This Darksome Burn (novella, 2013). His writing has received honors from Esquire, The Kenyon Review, and ESPN: The Magazine.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition