Read: Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson

June 04, 2020

This futuristic novel takes place at the end of the 20th century. Two English priests, Fr. Percy and Fr. Francis, question an old historian. He explains to them how the world got there: the existence of three countries (Europe, Asia, America) and a universal religion, a mixture of humanism and communism. The cult of man is celebrated in almost every church in the world, in place of the old religions.

Catholicism resisted and two territories were conceded to it: Rome and Ireland. Elsewhere, the last Catholics survive with rare priests, in a hostile atmosphere, because only the new universal religion will bring definitive peace.

But European leaders are concerned: Asia plans to invade Europe.

Then an unknown man named Felsenburgh speaks to Asia and convinces her to keep the peace. Jubilation invades the world.

Felsenburgh subjugates the peoples and prepares them for the final offensive against the Catholics, the last obstacles to universal tyranny. Many will give up like Fr. Francis, others will be the last fighters, like Fr. Percy. He understood who the mysterious Felsenburgh actually was.

The action never falters in this remarkable novel, and the outcome is uncertain until the end. Benson was the son of the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. He was ordained by his father in the Anglican church, then converted to Catholicism and became a priest. A brilliant man of letters like his brothers, he left an important body of work and Lord of the World was his greatest success. An impressive book.