Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
John Inglesant
John Henry Shorthouse (1834–1903)
John Inglesant, a notable historical romance by J. H. Shorthouse, was published in 1881, when he was forty-seven years old. It depicts with a wonderful atmosphere of reality the England of Charles I.’s time, and the Italy of the seventeenth century, when the tarnished glories of the Renaissance were concealed by exaggerations of art and life and manners. In ‘John Inglesant,’ the hero, is drawn one of the most complete portraits of a gentleman to be found in the whole range of fiction. Like a Vandyke courtier, he is an aristocrat of the soul, sustaining the obligations of his rank with a kind of gracious melancholy. Of a sensitive, dreamy temperament, possessing consummate tact, he has been trained from childhood by a Jesuit Father, St. Clare, for the office of court diplomat, and of mediator between the Catholics and Protestants in England. His introduction to the court of Charles I. is the beginning of a most picturesque and dramatic career in England, and afterwards in Italy, where he goes to seek the murderer of his twin-brother Eustace. He enters into the sumptuous life of the Renaissance: but in his worldly environment he never blunts his fine sense of honor, nor loses his ethereal atmosphere of purity. When he at last finds his brother’s murderer in his power, he delivers him over in a spirit of divine chivalry to the vengeance of Christ. The novel as a whole is like an old-world romance, a seventeenth-century Quest of the Holy Grail. It abounds in rich descriptions of the highly colored spectacular existence of the time, and follows with sympathy and comprehension the trend of its complex religious life.  1

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