Book review: The Frontiers of Paradise by Peter Levi

The Frontiers of Paradise by Peter Levi

This book was the literary equivalent of finding yourself, at a family gathering, sat next to a bibulous but exquisitely well read and educated great uncle who proceeds to regale you with all the stories about the family that no one ever told you before, along with his own opinions about everyone, including yourself.

If you substitue monks for the family, and an ex-Jesuit turned poet and academic for the great uncle (although being bibulous, exquisitely well read and educated is almost a synonym for a Jesuit), then you have The Frontiers of Paradise in a monk’s cowl. It’s a mixture of gossip, history, poetry and anthropology, all twisted together into a unique brew by a man who appears unsure quite what he really thinks about this God business and whether he can really quite free himself of it all and make a new god of poetry (answer: he can’t). If that makes it sound unique, it is.


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