Godric (1980)

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, 1981

Book Description

Frederick Buechner's Godric “retells the life of Godric of Finchale, a twelfth-century English holy man whose projects late in life included that of purifying his moral ambition of pride.[...]Sin, spiritual yearning, rebirth, fierce asceticism—these hagiographic staples aren't easy to revitalize, but Frederick Buechner goes at the task with intelligent intensity and a fine readiness to invent what history doesn't supply. He contrives a style of speech for his narrator—Godric himself—that's brisk and tough-sinewed. [...]He avoids metaphysical fiddle, embedding his narrative in domestic reality—familiar affection, responsibilities, disasters. [...]All on his own, Mr. Buechner has managed to reinvent projects of self-purification and of faith as piquant matter for contemporary fiction [in a book] notable for literary finish... Frederick Buechner is a very good writer indeed.”
— Benjamin DeMott, The New York Times Book Review

In Now and Then, Buechner describes how he happened upon the idea of a book on Godric: "Like Bebb, [Godric] came to me by accident, if there are such things as accidents in matters like this...I was sitting not in a barber shop this time but in the room at home where I work these days. I picked up a small paperback book of saints and opened it, by accident, to the page that had Godric on it. I had never so much as heard of him before, but as I read about him, I knew he was for me, my saint. Godric came mysteriously alive for me as Bebb had and, with him, all the people he knew and the whole medieval world he lived in."

Godric was a finalist for the 1981 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.


“A remarkable book... [A] true work of art.”
Atlantic Monthly

Godric is a memorable book...a marvelous gem of a book...destined to become a classic of its kind.” — Michael Heskett, Houston Chronicle

“From the book's opening sentence…and sensible reader will be caught in Godric's grip…Godric glimmers brightly.”
— Peter S. Prescott, Newsweek

“In the extraordinary figure of Godric, both stubborn outsider and true child of God, both worldly and unworldly, Frederick Buechner has found an ideal means of exploring the nature of spirituality. Godric is a living battleground where God fights it out with the world, the Flesh, and the Devil.”
London Times Literary Supplement

“With a poet's sensibly and a high reverent fancy, Frederick Buechner paints a memorable portrait.”
— Edmund Fuller, The Wall Street Journal