Top 10 Spiritual Novels
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
April 17, 2011
Filed Under Books
Contributed by Korina Rossi, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Modern life confronts us with unique spiritual challenges: how does one find the path of enlightenment? How can one avoid the pitfalls of life? Can one start a religious organization in one’s car?
Fortuitously, contemporary writers have responded with spiritual novels that address complex problems. Set in every location of the world, written in every language, there’s a spiritual novel about every quandary.
Here are the top 10 spiritual novels:
Siddhartha, perhaps the first spiritual novel and Herman Hesse’s masterpiece, follows the spiritual adventures of an ancient Indian businessman, Siddhartha. As he is achieving material success, Siddhartha finds himself unfulfilled. He ditches his worldly lifestyle for an ascetic existence and finds enlightenment living like Buddha.
9. The Idiot
Dostoyevsky’s novel drags the reader down the treacherous and lonely path of a saint, who must fend for himself in a world of extortion and fraud. The idiot of the novel, looking for a wife, is paired with ornate, but unsuitable women.
8. Wise Blood
Iconoclast Hazel Motes decides to found his own church, the Church Without Christ, in the small Southern town of Taulkinham. Preaching from the backseat of his jalopy, he discovers scores of false preachers in town, hawking their own versions of religion. Penned by Flannery O’Connor, the story is both grotesque and darkly humorous.
Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, an Irish street urchin abandoned in India, follows a career back into the British foreign services. The novels ends with him mulling over whether he’ll join the British colonial conquest of India’s wealth or seek his enlightenment.
6. Moby Dick
Who can forget Captain Ahab’s maniacal hunting of the whale that caused the loss of his leg in Melville’s Moby Dick? The novel’s interpretations are legion—fighting evil, the danger of monomania.
5. Wittgenstein’s Nephew
In a sanitarium in the Austrian mountains, the protagonist meets Paul Wittgenstein, the nephew of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher. Ostensibly suffering from bodily grievances, both are tired of the world’s falseness. Thomas Bernhard’s novel about two artists in a malaise is a classic.
4. The Assistant
The Assistant is one of the few urban spiritual novels, taking place in the cramped store of Brooklyn. The story follows the relationship between Morris, the owner, and his assistant Frank, who has come work for him for free after secretly robbing the store. Written by Bernard Malamud, the novel is a tale of guilt, comeuppance, and redemption.
3. Brothers Karamazov
Dostoyevsky’s epic novel about family relationships, always within the environs of the church. The story culminates in Dmitri’s trial for killing his father, who has finagled him into a love triangle.
2. Sartor Resartus
Historian Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus follows Diogenes Teufelsdröckh, a German Philosopher obsessed with clothes and the soul.
1. Café of Mirrors
Giuliana Morandini’s novel of a Slavic woman in the bordertown of Trieste, Italy, encountering the skewed morality of xenophobia. As she fights a crusade for custody of her son, she realizes the double-standard of justice for immigrants.