Godric (ISBN 0-06-061162-6) is a novel published in 1981, written by Frederick Buechner, that tells the semi-fictionalised life story of medieval Catholic saint Godric of Finchale. The novel was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
Godric is told in Saint Godric’s own voice: Buechner intentionally uses style, tone, and word choice to evoke a “mediaeval” manner of speaking. The book unfolds with Godric narrating the events of his life in retrospect, as he looks back on his hundred years of life and does not see the saintly existence that many ascribe to him. The honest earthiness of Godric’s account of his life—his candour in describing his most pious acts and most wretched sins—made this book a critical favourite. The Times, for example, noted in its Literary Supplement that “Godric is a living battleground where God fights it out with the world, the Flesh, and the Devil.”
As a historical novel it provides a gateway for understanding mediaeval history with the full breadth of imagination, characterisation and emotion in which non-fiction history is restricted. Some of the historical themes Buechner masterfully envisions in the book include blood libels, pilgrimage, Christian asceticism, hagiography, traveling court culture, Norman and Saxon relations.
The Hermit in Lore: Frederick Buechner’s Godric.