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Brendan: A Novel [Paperback]

By Frederick Buechner (Author)
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Item description for Brendan: A Novel by Frederick Buechner...

Finn, Brendan's childhood friend, describes the sixth-century Irish saint's search for Tir-na-n-Og, the Terrestrial Paradise

Publishers Description

An acclaimed author interweaves history and legend to re-create the life of a complex man of faith fifteen hundred years ago. Winner of the 1987 Christianity and Literature Book Award for Belles-Lettres.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.03" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2000
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060611782  
ISBN13  9780060611781  
UPC  099455013000  

Availability  5 units.
Availability accurate as of Sep 22, 2017 04:54.
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More About Frederick Buechner

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Frederick Buechner was born in 1926. The author of more than thirty books, including "Godric," a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, he is one of the most often quoted Christian authors alive today.

Frederick Buechner currently resides in Rupert Putney, in the state of Vermont. Frederick Buechner was born in 1926.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Buechner, Frederick
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality

Christian Product Categories
Books > Fiction > General Christian > Historical

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Reviews - What do customers think about Brendan: A Novel?

A great read.....  Jan 17, 2008
This book was highly enjoyable. I am a fan of fantasy/fiction, and was pleased with the writing style, dialogue and mythic quality that Mr. Buechner brought to this historic figure. I am looking forward to hunting down more of Mr. Buechners fiction.
Interesting read about Brendan the Navigator  Jan 18, 2007
This was a very interesting book. Brendan the Navigator was an Irish monk who is best known for the legend that he sailed to America around 500 BC. The book paints a very real feeling character as seen by his friend Finn. The author tries to take the legends about Brendan and make them feel as though they really happened. The other characters and environment come across as 3-dimensional, as if you could really feel the splashing salt water, the wrinkled tanned faces, etc.

The style of writing is a little hard to read at times as it is from the perspective of his friend Finn, as if he were really writing the story. Complete with bad grammar and strange sentence structure. I had to read some sentences a few times to get them right. It reminded me of Mark Twain.

The content was good and bad. The bad is some crude moments which might sour the story for some who don't wish to read such things. I would have preferred those moments no been there but having read them I can see why they're there and they do add to the character development. The good is that the characters do go through changes and growth as the years pass. The characters do seem real.

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars. I deducted 1 star due to the crude moments. Lawhead readers of his more recent stuff might really enjoy this book. In a way, it's following in the Patrick mold and it's maybe 40-50 years after him. Also, Bendan journeys to Wales and meets Artor (King Arthur), who tells him of the betrayal by Gwenhwyfar and Llenlleawg. (See the Pendragon series.)

Very interesting and I'm glad I read it.
a curiously flat book, but nevertheless enjoyable  Jul 2, 2003
The overviews represented above are fantastic, well-written and thorough. I enjoyed this book about St. Brendan despite the choice of narrator. I liked Buechner's evocation of the humanness of Brendan through the eyes of Finn, his loyal friend and companion. However, what I did not care for is the curiously flat quality of the book: a complete lack of understanding on Finn's part about spirituality and mysticism.

Perhaps this is where I am coming from (as one who likes mysticism) but I'd have been much more excited to see a book written from a mystic's point of view, with a mystical evocation and understanding of the world. Finn's point of view is unfailingly, extremely physical, and any thoughts about the spiritual world are tentative at best. The character of Finn struck me as spiritually childlike; this is not a criticism, just an observation.

In many ways, Finn is the perfect companion for Brendan, because he is low-maintenance, curious but not nosy, and he has a rather live-and-let-live attitude, which Brendan being Brendan needs. The writing in Mr. Buechner's book is first rate and the tie-ins with Gildas, Arthur, and Brigit were amazing, even if they were seen from such a prosaic everyman.

This is the third of Buechner's works I have read, and I have loved and devoured them all. The author takes us breathtakingly into the life and times of Brendan, a 6th century Irish saint -- Brendan the Navigator, as he is known by many. The language, imagery and power of this novel is astonishing.

Brendan's story is related here by his long-time friend and travelling companion Finn -- excepting for a section of the book that deals with Brendan's first voyage, from whom Finn is excluded by the mishap of falling overboard as the ship leaves Ireland. This part of the story is related through Brendan's written accounts of that time.

Taken from his parents soon after he was born by Bishop Erc, a relation, and placed into the hands of the Abbess Ita for the purposes of his education and upbringing, Brendan seems destined for a rich spiritual life from an early age. Forever seeking to grow closer to God, he takes as a quest the search for the earthly Paradise -- Tir na nOg (The land of the Young) of Irish legend. He makes two sea voyages in search of this blessed land -- his adventures are many, as are the epiphanies experienced by him along the way. On his second voyage, legend has it that he may have reached as far west as Florida -- predating even Lief Ericsson's discovery of America by 400 years or so.

Brendan's spiritual struggles are even more arduous than his seafaring ones. An earth-bound human being, he is frought with contradictions -- as are we all -- and his battle to rationalize them with his deep-seeded faith is not one without its casualties, both within him and among his earthly companions. He is wracked by guilt and sorrow as a result of the choices he makes in his life -- and his search for meaning, and for ways to serve God, continue until his death.

On page 216-17 of the novel he comes to a seemingly simple thought -- but one that is deceiving in its simplicity, an all-encompassing flame burning at the spiritual heart of our life's purpose. He is in a conversation with a Welsh monk who is obsessed with transcribing the sins of the world to paper. Gildas, the monk, says 'When the Day of Judging comes, there'll be so many sinners running about some may escape the flames altogether. My work is to set their names down here with all their sins written after them so the angels don't let a single solitary one slip through their fingers.' Brendan is saddened by this focus on man's evil -- his work, as he sees it, is more to help the poor folk, to offer aid and succor where he can. The following portions of his conversation with Gildas is moving and poignant: '(God) wants each of us to have a loving heart. When all's said and done, perhaps that's the length and breadth of it...To lend each other a hand when we're falling. Perhaps that's the only work that matters in the end.'

Brendan passes through -- and witnesses -- much suffering, as well as joy, in his life. He has come to be honored and revered as a saint for the works he did, for the life he lived. He would have ridiculed this elevation, most assuredly -- to his final breath, he considered himself a 'black-hearted sinner' -- but his example is one that can be followed...not one of a perfect man (for none of us can claim that), but of one who reached beyond his imperfections to embrace those around him with the love that dwells within us.

Buechner's novel is a joy to read and experience -- uplifting and entertaining at the same time, full of spirituality, humanity and adventure.

Love and learn.  Oct 10, 2000
Brendan is the story of a sixth-century Irish monk's quest for "the land of the blessed" the terrestrial Paradise known in Celtic lore as "Tir-na-n-og". Buechner skillfully takes us to the doorstep of many rich and vibrant lands via Brendan's journeys... and lets us meet with a many-splendored cast of characters, none of which are superfluous. All of these places, and all of the characters play a vital role in both the building up and the tearing down of Brendan. Aside from the sheer beauty of this story, laced as it is with Buechner's unrivalled metaphors (all writers bow)... I feel there are many lessons in the book that further commend it to the realm of worthy reading.

It is a book which in the end asks us to come to terms with our own questions we would address to God. Whatever they may be. In the process, we may find that many of those questions have already been answered. Others (perhaps the greater part) never will be. This is normal. Life is mystery. From the book I think I've learned that our inner search for God can be as much selfishness and pride if it does not work itself out in a love for others and a willingness to extend our "selves" for the purpose of nurturing enlightenment in others.

For Brendan, this is a lesson learned in retrospect. And for all of us, I think there is an implication here that theoretical and practical spiritual truth is the fruit of a journey. Bitter if plucked too early; sweet if dropped when ripe. Towards the end of his life Brendan says (refering to God) "Perhaps we've given all but what he truly wants." And further "He wants us each one to have a loving heart."

It seems that after a life of privation, striving, abstinence, and self-inflicted penance, Brendan finds his greatest spiritual fulfillment comes through his simple practical interactions with common folk (regenerate and unregenerate). The narrator Finn tells us, "Every day and every weather he'd go tramping off in search of them he thought needed succor most." And further, "Then the same Brendan that once was wont to blather for hours on end of the wonders he'd seen would for a wonder sit silent as a stick while some poor soul spun out his own drab story."

At any rate, through Brendan's life we are afforded a glimpse of the truth that it is not primarily through our good works that we attain peace or favor with ouselves or with God. The life-long friend and narrator, Finn, concludes by saying that if he were Brendan's ultimate judge, "I'd sentence him to have mercy on himself. I'd sentence him less to strive for the glory of God than just to let it swell his sails if it can." Brendan is the story of a cold soul's migration to warmer climes. And back again. The confusion of the religious genius.

If I were some sort of ultimate judge, I'd sentence everyone to a reading of Buechner's book.


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