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Alec Guinness The Unknown: A Life (pb)2003 by O''connor
Universal Father: A Life Of Pope John Paul Ii (pb)2005 by O''connor
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UNIVERSAL FATHER: A LIFE OF POPE JOHN PAUL II (pb)2005
Author: O'CONNOR
ISBN: 0747581991
Year: 2005
Publisher: BLOOMSBURY
Category: BIO / AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
Edition: 1
Format: Paperback
Language: English
 ABOUT THE TITLE
Slated to be published on the late pope's eighty-fifth birthday, May 18, 2005, O'Connor's biography shows signs of hasting to meet that date, despite five years in the making. Although never unintelligible or boring--O'Connor is too literate for the former, and Karol Wojtyla's life was too eventful for the latter--the book shows many signs of needing more work, principally to lighten overpacked sentences and add more explanatory notes. As is, it's a bumpy read but more immediately absorbing and humanizing than either Jonathan Kwitny's encomiastic Man of the Century (1997) or George Weigel's stately Witness to Hope (1999). Moreover, O'Connor adds something new and distinctive. All of O'Connor's previous nonfiction has been concerned with the theater: biographies of playwrights and performers, surveys of French theater, and two plays. He homes in on Wojtyla's lifelong theatricality, considering his early acting and theatrical activism before and during the Nazi occupation of Poland (when staging plays was strictly illegal), analyzing his several plays (the last completed during his first bishopric in the late 1950s), and noting the careful planning of his appearances throughout the world during his pontificate. O'Connor attends to Wojtyla's physical presence--how he looked, spoke, moved, and dressed (very casually; he habitually gave away new things, and his housekeepers learned to discard worn underwear on the sly)--as he would an actor's. If this sounds superficial, O'Connor's attention to what Wojtyla expressed through his presence--the love that, embracing suffering and sacrifice, passes understanding and is the mystery at the heart of Christianity--assures that it is deeply consequential
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