Novel Thoughts blog

News & Links after Michaelmas

September 30, 2013 8:00 am | 7 Comments

Okay, so the Feast of Sts. Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, the archangels, was overridden by the regular Sunday observance this year. But it’s still a wonderful word, and, besides suggesting a baptized culture that takes its holidays from actual holy days, it can have a particularly literary feel for Americans. This is because we’ve only ever seen it used in a Dickens novel.


Here are some news bits and links to help you earn your lit wings:

  • If you haven’t read it yet, check out “The New Catholic Literature Revival, Or Something Like It”. I talk about why it’s happening and where, profiling a few budding small presses, an imprint of a larger press, and, erm, ourselves as places that may foment a resurgence in Catholic literature.
  • On an entirely other note, there’s some commentary (may involve light scandal) on the good ol’ days vs. the bad nowadays at the house that published Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. The last name in that trio, Giroux, was brought up Catholic and brought in some notable talent (often notably Catholic or Jewish).
    • One tidbit from this that’ll make your brain pop: megapublisher Penguin Random House (one name; recent merger) will publish over 15,000 new titles in 2014. Fifteen thousand.
  • Meanwhile, 15k titles nonwithstanding, the NEA says less than half of Americans read a literary work last year. Slightly more than half read anything voluntarily outside of work or school. This is down from the last survey in 2008. (Press release; full study.)
  • In the book as artifact and devotional object category, here’s the phenomenal Black Hours. (For better navigation, see the thumbnails page.) This Book of Hours has been making the rounds in some literary social-media circles lately. Below is a detail from Matins for the Office of the Dead.
    • The Black Hours
  • Now may be a good time to cover social media. Ignatius Press Novels is integrated into the Ignatius Press Facebook page and Twitter feed, and our novels’ trailers will go through the Ignatius Press YouTube channel.
  • Lastly, you might have heard Breaking Bad wrapped itself up last night. Neither Catholic nor a novel, you say? Okay, but it’s on everyone’s lips and there’s lots of divided opinion about it in Catholic circles. Well, I should say there are reams of articles proclaiming it really very good, a few reacting against that, and then lots of disagreement in the comment sections. That’s as true for 2010 as it is for 2013. And now that it’s wrapped up, we should be able to put it in perspective and see if all the drugs, sex, and murder was worth it. Right? Right?
    • Please don’t spoil any plot points for others. (Particularly me. I will be so sad.) But do comment. As always, no log-in necessary.
Dan at Ignatius

Dan at Ignatius

Dan is the web editor of Ignatius Press Novels, and works with the Press in many areas of its internet marketing and outreach.

Tags: Catholicism illustration links publishing stats TV


  1. September 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Michelmas is used in Pride & Prejudice.

  2. September 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    The first time I ever heard of Michelmas was in “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken ( I also echo Stacie’s comment. Not necessarily your main point but worth footnoting, I suppose. :)

  3. September 30, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Michaelmas is used in more than a few places in Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. I only know this because I’m currently reading it. :-)

  4. September 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Michaelmas is also used in Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset.

    Thanks for the info on the Black Hours, too.

  5. Dan at Ignatius

    September 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Yes! I was being a little cheeky. (And it occurs to me Bleak House can’t be that commonly read, right?) I like the spreading pool of citations here, though.

    I remember an acquaintance offhandedly wishing everyone a happy Michaelmas and thinking I bet that is totally normal for her. How odd. It felt like it belonged to a past century or an English novel.

  6. John Herreid

    September 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Dan–remember that Michaelmas over in Berkeley with the devil piñata made from a repurposed Dora the Explorer piñata? I think that was my first encounter with the celebration of Michaelmas, which is now forever associated in my mind with children smacking demons with sticks until they release their candy. That and the St. Michael prayer.

  7. Dan at Ignatius

    September 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Hahahaha! Yes, that one’s hard to forget. (And highly recommended as a festival experience.)

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