Sunday, February 2, 2014

GREY EMINENCE by Aldous Huxley (non-fic)

This book written in 1941 may be out of print.  Every once in a while, I like to go back to the classics to be reminded, among other things, of how rewarding beautiful and rich writing can be.  Any book by Huxley will do.  This book is difficult to categorize, as it is the story of the Machiavellian French politician, Richelieu and his spiritual guide and trusted political advisor, the Capuchin friar, Father Joseph. It is also an interpretive account of the politics of the early 17th century and the 30 Years War.  Huxley analyses the motives and philosophy of these closely bound men who were responsible for the policies of France that affected all of western Europe during their tenure.

Francois Leclerc du Tremblay, who became Father Joseph was born into a noble family 1577.  His life and history is one of power and abstinence. He was a man of opposing forces who was able to compartmentalize the dichotomy of being an aesthetic and a ruthless politician.  He was both loved and hated and came to be known as the shadowy figure called Grey Eminence.  He was a power-broker who travelled all over Europe stirring up forces that he and Richelieu deemed important to the rise of French supremacy.  Their tenure was one of the more interesting times in the history of Europe with the rise of Protestantism and the waning power of Rome, the weakening of the German state as well as that of Spain.

If you have an interest in this period of time in history and enjoy brilliant writing, I recommend this insightful book.  It is worth searching out. Huxley delves into the philosophy of religious mysticism and how it affected European politics during this era.  He is an astute interpreter of the motives and designs of Fr. Joseph and Richelieu and how they shaped Europe during their lifetimes.

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