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Hadrian the Seventh

rolfe book novel pope

a novel by Frederick Rolfe, published in 1904. George Arthur Rose is, like Rolfe, a rejected candidate for the priesthood. The novel describes how he is called to be pope after a life of exemplary holiness and faithfulness to his vocation in obscurity and poverty. In a unique exercise in imaginative wish-fulfilment, Rolfe depicts Rose—now Pope Hadrian—embarking on a programme of papal reform: opening up centuries-old barriers between Church and world, renouncing any claim to temporal sovereignty, selling the Vatican treasures and giving the proceeds to the poor. He nevertheless denounces socialism and the doctrine of equality. The somewhat contrived ending of the book sees Hadrian assassinated by his enemies. The book is written in Rolfe's characteristic style, a mixture of rare exotic vocabulary and classically inspired coinings.

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