The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary Provocative haunting and indelible Colm T ib n s portrait of Mary presents her as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and th

Provocative, haunting, and indelible, Colm T ib n s portrait of Mary presents her as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity.In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son s crucifixion She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of theProvocative, haunting, and indelible, Colm T ib n s portrait of Mary presents her as a solitary older woman still seeking to understand the events that become the narrative of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity.In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son s crucifixion She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel her keepers, who provide her with food and shelter and visit her regularly She does not agree that her son is the Son of God nor that his death was worth it nor that the group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye, were holy disciples Mary judges herself ruthlessly she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died she fled, to save herself , and is equally harsh on her judgment of others This woman who we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes, in Toibin s searing evocation, a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone This tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.

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The Testament of Mary

  1. Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford in 1955 He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978 Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel The South shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times Aer Lingus First Fiction Award and Homage to Barcelona , both published in 1990 When he returned to Ireland in 1978 he worked as a journalist for In Dublin , Hibernia and The Sunday Tribune , becoming features editor of In Dublin in 1981 and editor of Magill, Ireland s current affairs magazine, in 1982 He left Magill in 1985 and travelled in Africa and South America His journalism from the 1980s was collected in The Trial of the Generals 1990 His other work as a journalist and travel writer includes Bad Blood A Walk Along the Irish Border 1987 and The Sign of the Cross Travels in Catholic Europe 1994 His other novels are The Heather Blazing 1992, winner of the Encore Award The Story of the Night 1996, winner of the Ferro Grumley Prize The Blackwater Lightship 1999, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Angela Lansbury The Master 2004, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize the Prix du Meilleur Livre the LA Times Novel of the Year and shortlisted for the Booker Prize Brooklyn 2009, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year His short story collections are Mothers and Sons 2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize and The Empty Family 2010 His play Beauty in a Broken Place was performed at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin in 2004 His other books include The Modern Library the 200 Best Novels Since 1950 with Carmen Callil Lady Gregory s Toothbrush 2002 Love in a Dark Time Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar 2002 and All a Novelist Needs Essays on Henry James 2010 He has edited The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction His work has been translated into thirty languages In 2008, a book of essays on his work Reading Colm Toibin , edited by Paul Delaney, was published He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster and from University College Dublin He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books In 2006 he was appointed to the Arts Council in Ireland He has twice been Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and also been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin He is currently Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University.

681 Reply to “The Testament of Mary”

  1. My grandfather was a preacher.I remember him as a kind man who liked to work in his garden but he was also a fire and brimstone orator who would deliver Jonathon Edwards like sermons This was rural Tennessee in the mid 70s and I recall standing in the back of the church with him and stoic men in overalls and stiff jackets shaking his hand and thanking him for the message He liked to ask me what I knew about the Bible and he would quietly sing hymns and tell me stories My grandmother would make b [...]

  2. Gentle, stoical, visceral pain leaches from every page, into my fingers, till my very blood is charged with it The agony of wounds and guilt, yes, but the balm of forgiveness, too, I hope I did not think that the cursed shadow of what had happened would ever lift It pumped darkness It was a heaviness in me that often became a weight which I could not carry The devout may find this too heretical.Militant atheists may find this too steeped in the New Testament.I read it as neither.I read it as a m [...]

  3. I read The Testament of Mary before dawn on this Easter Sunday A coincidence, but not altogether without significance It is an Easter Sunday direct dialed from heaven every color in the dyed egg basket is reflected in spring s delicate light from the cornflower blue sky to the coral pink sunrise to the daffodils in scene stealing yellow It is a day to believe in Resurrection and rebirth Yet, I am not a Believer in the Christian sense That Jesus was a real man I have no doubt That he was a chosen [...]

  4. OK, I ll start with the jokes A laconic Jewish mother Let me tell you, if they would have nailed me to a cross when I was about 30 years old, my mom would have had way than 20K words to say about it And this book It s the only part of the New Testament, with the exception of Revelation, that I ve ever read The Old Testament I ve read that backwards Hebrew and forwards Yinglish , complete with footnotes Here we get Mary, kvetchy as anything, but also ice cold sane I d be kvetchy too if my son we [...]

  5. This is such a lovely book A very dear friend of mine is a bit obsessed with T ib n, madly in love with his writing and really doesn t think he could ever put a foot wrong And reading this it is hard not to agree I found myself reading large parts of this aloud, unable to resist hearing the words I virtually finished it in one sitting, but fell asleep last night and then read what was left on the train today, a little upset I had to read it to myself The sentences are so beautifully crafted and [...]

  6. In this short piece, T ib n offers readers an insightful look into the life of Jesus Christ, from the perspective of his mother The story becomes a monologue, delivered by Mary, that weaves throughout the life of her son, though she will never use his name Mary offers memories from the evolving life of Jesus, adding editorial commentary when it suits her best Choosing to see the disciples as a collection of vagrants and vagabonds, Mary cannot always understand why Jesus would associate with thes [...]

  7. This is not The Da Vinci Code.This is a melancholic tale of the widowed Mary, sharp but resigned in her age, dictating the story of her life and her son to the evangelists who would write the gospels They ignore her, shuffle around the furniture in her house, try to convince her that her son who remains perpetually unnamed is the son of God She will have none of it.Retellings and flirty blasphemous rewritings of biblical history are nothing new Ernst Renan is the earliest example I can think of [...]

  8. Throughout history, I doubt there has ever been a woman who has inspired devotion than Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth known to Christians as the Messiah, the Son of God People throughout the world pray to God each day, invoking Mary s name, hoping she will intercede on their behalf so that their prayers might be answered As a young Roman Catholic girl, I was taught that Mary was the standard bearer for how a Catholic girl should live her life I was to mold myself using the qualities Mary pos [...]

  9. The whole premise of this is a strange one Our image of Mary is thickly encrusted with the dried sediment of centuries of veneration, with iconic paintings, with maest and piet , with Marian devotional practices and Marian beliefs and Marian dogmas Is it really possible to crack open that carapace and expose the authentic, historical human being underneath Let s just think about that for a moment Mary as a mother who saw her son crucified So What do you think she felt Obviously.So There you are [...]

  10. This is an exquisitely written book and the prose is sublime However, I cannot really come to terms with the fact that this is a fictionalized form of the latter part of the Son of God s life.Reading this book made me feel very uncomfortable and the prophecies in the text rather unnerved and disturbed me I m not religious, inclining towards spiritual views, but there was a sense of d j vu which confused me.As for its publication, well I really don t wish to comment on that.Nevertheless, despite [...]

  11. I am not a Christian and I do not believe Jesus is the Son of God any than all of us are somehow connected to the unknowable force of creation Ok, having said that, The Testament of Mary is a beautifully constructed imagining of a mother s anguish over the life choices of a son she sees as increasingly confused and pompous, pushed by the agenda of others to go further and further until he becomes a threat that must be eliminated by the powers that be The description of her son s crucifixion and [...]

  12. What a beautiful little book The language is lyrical and the story provoking As someone who attended a religious school as a child, I immensely enjoyed reading how Mary was exasperated by the disciples of Christ, who insisted to force their version of the story of events upon the future of mankind Mary thought them fools and misfits and had no patience with them and their misinterpretation of what happened She just mourned for her son and regretted that he brought himself in danger in such a foo [...]

  13. Meryl Streep reads Mary of NazarethMy god this is gorgeous If you read this book, you MUST use the audio version It s a monologue Streep brings Mary to life as a bitter, realistic mother This novel was just beautiful on its tragic honesty, giving the reader brutal insight into Mary s thoughts and opinions about the misfits and this son of god business I remember years ago reading The Master by this same author and absolutely loving it too He may be a new go to writer for me.

  14. Highly original account of episodes from Jesus life recalled by his mother, Mary, who watched from a distance a son that in adulthood mystified her She doesn t understand how he became the leader of a cult that harbours misfits from all walks of life and is controlled by a hierarchy of men, the apostles, who seem cold and calculating She clearly doubts the stories that are spread about him walking on water, providing loaves and fishes to a multitude of people, and certainly not the water into wi [...]

  15. I do not know why it matters that I should tell the truth to myself at night, why it should matter that the truth should be spoken at least once in the world Because the world is a place of silence, the sky at night when the birds have gone is a vast silent place Words will make the slightest difference to the sky at night They will not brighten it or make it less strange And the day too has its own deep indifference to anything that is said This is a view of Mary that some extremist would consi [...]

  16. I read this novella for a Man Booker book club, and I m glad that I finally had the opportunity to read something by Colm T ib n Although the subject of this novella isn t something I would normally pick up, I m very pleased that I started with this as it was a short but heartfelt read with some genuinely beautiful prose and a refreshing take on Mary herself.Mary is a character that doesn t feature heavily within the Bible itself, so I was happy to get to know her as primarily a woman and a moth [...]

  17. Those of us who grew up listening to Bible stories may enjoy this chance to reimagine the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ As we listen to the clear and should I say bitter tones of Meryl Streep reading T ib n s words, we realize that not much had been said of Mary in the Bible, as though she had been an unimportant part of the life of Jesus Or perhaps, using a modern day sensibility, she shunned the limelight, and others sought to protect her anonymity and her right to privacy by nearly era [...]

  18. In this book, Colm Toibin humanized Mary, the Mother of God.Toibin gave voice to the aging Mary, now a widow, and is sorely missing her husband and his son She does not believe that her son is the Son of God and the miracles that he performed were all staged She longs to see her son back, not as a adult, but as a child She recalls to herself the Sabbaths when they enjoyed themselves as a family She doubts the 12 apostles whose two members are her supposedly protectors and she refers them as misf [...]

  19. I was bewildered while reading this novella and was left bewildered at the end Not in the way some books leave you with intriguing questions, but in a way that had me wondering why the author and I am a big fan of his made some of the choices he did For example, why have Mary never name the two disciples John and the other who I thought might be Luke, but have since learned is Paul, though that would be historically inaccurate who are bothering her while writing their accounts Because John never [...]

  20. The Testament of Mary is presented as a missing part of the Bible told in the first person by Mary, Jesus mother Missing or suppressed because Colm Toibin s Mary is a sceptic of the Christian faith who relates memories of her son that question the foundation of the other testaments that paved the way to the world s most popular religion I have no dog in this fight I m not religious at all so I m not saying I disliked this book because it s blasphemous or dares to adopt the voice of the venerated [...]

  21. I was looking forward to reading this book I had very much enjoyed Colm Toibin s other book Brooklyn However, I was disappointed in The Testament of Mary Colm wove together Biblical stories that we all remember with complete fiction i.e his own take on what Mary was thinking and feeling.The Mom in me could relate to how difficult it would be to watch your son being tortured and to see him die It was interesting to think about how Mary must have felt while all of this was happening Colm describes [...]

  22. I got this book for my husband as I thought he d like it It had good reviews, and neither of us had ever read anything by Colm T ib n But he couldn t get into it, so we decided to read it together It was not pleasurable but the book was short so we persisted.In this book Mary, the Madonna of the New Testament, is imagined as an unsympathetic character who is defending herself but not in a convincing way like a mother whose case is being tried in the media and who doesn t fit the image demanded b [...]

  23. I skipped all television last night to read this novella, freshly arrived on my Kindle I read it, mesmerized, in one sitting I rate it superb We are not used to hearing from Mary, the mother of Jesus the New Testament quotes her very little and presents her in very few scenes Toibin lets her speak late in her life, and what she has to say will surely make Toibin persona non grata at the Vatican She speaks as a strong, intelligent although, of course, given time and place, not educated , independ [...]

  24. I remember too much I am like the air on a calm day as it holds itself still, letting nothing escape Testament of Mary is a powerful monologue of a mother struck by the tragedy of surviving her son s death She loses her son not only to the crucification but the memory of her son to zealous Gospels who are distorting facts to form a compelling story.Years after the crucification of Jesus, Gospel writers modelled on Paul and John, I read the author disclosed are visiting Mary to hear her filtered [...]

  25. It s 10 30 p.m and I just read The Testament of Mary, and I can t sleep I was not prepared for the power of this slim novella just 81 pages The section on Lazarus stripped that story into horror, as did the rest of the book.The NY Times book review said The Testament of Mary is a beautiful and daring work Originally performed as a one woman show in Dublin, it takes its power from the surprises of its language, its almost shocking characterization, its austere refusal of consolation The source of [...]

  26. This is a book that is very much in dialogue with the biblical narrative of Mary, and because I m really not familiar with the details of her story or of the Gospels, I think that some of this book s power was lost on me Like all of Toibin s work, it s very well written, at a sentence level, but by choosing to focus on only the last days of Jesus s life, it lacks the richness and emotional depth of some of his other books We don t really see Mary as a mother raising Jesus, except in the briefest [...]

  27. When I learned Meryl Streep narrated this audio book I thought I couldn t go wrong, for once, in attempting to listen to an audiobook in the car Plus, it s short 3 cds Then less than halfway along I encountered driving conditions that easily took all my attention Twenty minutes later I had no idea where I d left off, and it s F.g freezing in the northland and I didn t want to figure out where I d left off So much for me and audio books So I took the book out from the library Interesting how litt [...]

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