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Lord of the World

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  963 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews

Imagine a godless age, a time when all the world has fallen prey to soulless communism. This is the world that Christ comes to as he returns to us. This is the Second Coming. This is the End of Time. This is the Apocalypse. According to his biographer, Fr. Cyril Martindale, Mgr. Benson's depiction of the future was in many ways a
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Wildside Press (first published January 1st 1900)
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Webster Bull
Being Catholic today is a challenge. It can be awkward talking about one's faith in polite company—at the average Boston-area cocktail party, for instance. The Church's position on social issues is all wrong, at least if you heed the common mentality. Catholics are among the biggest threats to good, sound, everyday, politically correct thinking. Catholics actually believe in such antiquated notions as God, faith, obedience, life, chastity before marriage, and fidelity in marriage, and they have ...more
It’s hard to remember this book is over one hundred years old. Technologically speaking it’s out-moded, of course. Robert Hugh Benson’s ‘volors’ (flying machines which sound like Zeppelins) zip along at 150 mph and people rely on typewriters for administrative work, but Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is far more dated and it’s fifty years newer.

Where Lord of the World stands up to the test of time is in its presentation of ideas. Written in 1907, it accurately predicts a future world whi
At the turn of the 21st century, war between the states of Europe and the East threatens; at the midnight hour, however, comes an obscure American politician, a senator of no fame, whose cosmopolitan charm allows him to calm the troubled diplomatic waters and prevent a century of peace and prosperity from being overturned by strife. Hailed as a savior, the rising star becomes a pivotal figure in world affairs – but the epitome of modernity, this senator has a far darker role to play in cosmic hi ...more
Sep 25, 2012 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was ready to give this book 5 stars right up until the last page, maybe even the last line. The writing is lush, complex, with the sort of Victorian-era delight in rich and beautiful language that one seldom encounters these days and it was a joy to read. Here's an example:

It was a very upright old man that [Father Franklin] saw in the chair before him, of medium height and girth, with hands clasping the bosses of his chair-arms, and an appearance of great and deliberate dignity. But it was at
Feb 20, 2015 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our Pope Francis is full of surprises. This book is on his list of favorites! It is in the public domain so is available for free in the kindle store and is available free in audio on librivox. I read it both ways. The author was a Catholic priest, so there is definitely a Catholic perspective, but I think that anyone would find the book a page-turner. Fr. Robert Hugh Benson wrote it in 1907 and it is shocking how prophetic it is. Honestly, I think it would be a very interesting read especially ...more
Although this book of fiction was written over 100 years ago the author accurately predicted the radical changes that have not only taken place in the 20th century but may occur especially in relation to the emergence of air travel,constant berating & actual warfare against the Catholic Church, ready acceptance of euthanasia as a form of so-called medical treatment & most important of all the election by the world's population of the new Messiah who comes forth as a gentle,peace loving & ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
May 26, 2015 Manuel Alfonseca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An apocalyptic novel written in 1907. Personally, I prefer A canticle for Leibowitz, which seems to me better built and more believable, because the apocalyptic end is caused by man himself, rather than by unexplained acts of God.
There are two kinds of atheism:
1. Optimistic atheism, which replaces faith in God by an overpowering faith in Man. God, in this view, is the result of evolution, not its cause. The last question, a short story by Asimov, could be considered the most concise representati
Dec 31, 2009 Allie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion-fiction
Freakishly prophetic to today's world "theology" of secular humanism and all that encompasses- even though this book was written in 1907. I read this book in a few days it was so hard to put down and a flowing read. The major point I remember from it is the recognition of how important it will be to be fully in the state of grace in the time of "the" Anti-Christ because of how easily the masses will be fooled and believe in him.
I found it a bit tough to get through. I found him spending too much time on the descriptions of a persons interior movement and redescribing it over and over. I was impatient with them and skimmed a bunch getting to the action. It could have been cut down to a more bone and quicker story in some ways.
Chris Fellows
In this book a practically unknown one-term United States senator with a charismatic personality and a magnetic speaking voice comes to power in 2008 and turns out to be the Antichrist. Honest.

Yes, this is basically the same plot as a book I was handed by a wild-eyed fellow outside Redfern station a decade ago. You may have been handed the same book. However, in this case: (1) it is the Protestants who cave immediately to join the Antichrist while the Catholics are the persecuted minority fighti
Frank Roberts
First off, let me say that this book is very Catholic. Catholic ritual, phraseology, and views play major roles, and the chief protagonist is a Catholic priest. As this book was written by a Catholic convert and priest, this is not too surprising.

Writing in the first decade of the 20th century, but depicting the 21st century, Benson's vision of the future fails in some respects, but is eerily prescient in others. His technological imagination anticipates nuclear weapons and interstate highways
May 22, 2009 Nusato rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to know why old white catholics are so weird
Recommended to Nusato by: Joseph Ratzinger
I really hate books where people forget that they write what they know. For instance, this author for some reason doesn't know anything about Islam or Africa, so he writes off an entire continent and an entire religion in two paragraphs and completely removes them from the story. An end of times story with no Africa. Or any black people. Yellow ones get mentioned in passing as well, and America is only the birthplace of the Anti-Christ and then a whiny bitch of a nation in later sections. Everyt ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-list
Lord of the World: A Novel, by Robert Hugh Benson, is a classic I had never heard of, but which boasts "I advise you to read it" - Pope Francis on the front cover.

Ave Maria Press released a new edition in 2016 of this 1907 novel. Confession: I skipped the (probably very interesting and educational) introduction by Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J., and just dove into the book. I had no clue what it was about, aside from the back cover's assertion that it's "one of the first dystopian novels of the twentieth
Elisabeth pifer
Oct 05, 2009 Elisabeth pifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1907, as current as today's thoughts in trends in relativism and humanistic philosophies.
Aug 27, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the author's vision of the end of the "long defeat" of history (to borrow from Tolkein). The book is engaging on a number of levels. It was written in 1907 and takes places a century or more in the future (from then) (I don't recall if there's an exact date, but probably somewhere around 2030 or so). The book essentially describes the coming of the anti-Christ and the end of days. The book is a novel, though, and there are few, if any, references to revelation, i.e., it's not ...more
Phillip Marshall
I wouldn't necessarily claim this to be a good book because I find the plot underdeveloped and characters underdeveloped. The rise of the Anti-Christ figure isn't explained or at least it's not explained in any believable fashion. Furthermore, there should have been more development between Father Franklin and Father Francis--especially with the creation of a new state religion and Francis' development. Perhaps, a backstory to a conversation between the two priests in the past?

Although the stor
Evandro Menezes
I just finished reading this book this weekend. It's an interesting novel published in 1906 about a then futuristic 21st century by Robert Benson, the son of an Anglican bishop who converted to Catholicism.
The story depicts a technological century where thoroughfares, telecommunications and air travel are common, though with a Victorian flavor, for the highways are paved with rubber, people have telegraphs at home and fly on airships.
But it also has other almost prophetic descriptions of the soc
Mar 07, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholic, british
Because this book has stayed with me for weeks after reading, I must change my three star review. This book accurately predicted a good portion of what's going on now. The idea of a world government holding so much power and how the characters respond to that power is thought provoking. Actually, it's downright scary. I don't know why Pope Francis recommends this but it might be because of the fight over religious liberty. Four stars.
Highly recommended by Pope Francis. Before 1984, a
Seth Holler
Feb 19, 2013 Seth Holler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lean narrative, sometimes propulsive, sometimes pathetic (martyrdoms on pp 176-7), and sometimes a thinly-veiled pamphlet. Also a bit sloppy (the chronology is irregular, for instance). Makes an interesting contrast with Rolfe's HADRIAN THE SEVENTH. In Rolfe, the pope engineers world peace, while in Benson that task falls to the Antichrist. (That Christ came to bring "not peace but a sword" is Benson's chief theme.) Both novels also feature protagonists with doppelgängers.

The figure of Mr Fran
Jerrod Carter
Oct 23, 2014 Jerrod Carter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love a book that will make the contemplate its message for some time to come, and Lord of the World has accomplished that. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in where the arguments for humanism must logically end.

The author is writing from a decidedly Catholic perspective, but the story could easily be extended by an open-minded reader to include all Christians in the persecutions depicted, or even all people of resolute faith.

I especially liked the author's portrayal of the proc
Peter Mongeau
Reviewed on

The Christian world is depressingly awash in end-times fiction these days. Such reading material is depressing not so much because of the subject matter – which is often relevant and interesting – but rather because most of what is available is the dispensationalist schlock that infests the shelves of Christian bookstores across the country. For those who are looking for a more serious fictional treatment of the subject, there is Father Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of
Jan 20, 2010 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An end of days/sci-fi book written by a Catholic priest in 1906. It is very surprising to see how many things he got right. Of course it is unabashedly preachy and Catholic, but it is interesting all the same. The prologue is 5 stars and definitely worth checking out.
Feb 21, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Terrific book after a somewhat confusing beginning. A masterpiece.
Jan 30, 2016 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lately, I find myself reading more and more about theology. I guess I am doing so because I have reached a point in my life where I no longer believe the problems of this nation, or the world, can be solved merely with politics. A more fundamental reform needs to take place, one that delves deeper than the superficial world of "policy." Prior to this book, most of my reading has been focused on non-fiction theological titles. However, realizing that there can be profound religious wisdom in fict ...more
Nick Senger
Nov 16, 2016 Nick Senger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, favorites, 2016
Before Fahrenheit 451, before Nineteen Eighty-four, before Brave New World, there was Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson. Recommended by Pope Francis at least twice, this 1908 dystopian novel by a Catholic priest is both challenging and disturbing, and is possibly more relevant now than at any time since it was first published.

The story is set in the early 21st century and is eerily prophetic in predicting some of the bleaker moments of the last 100 years. Benson imagines a future that is o
Jan 28, 2014 Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ediciones Cristiandad ha tenido la excelente idea de reeditar esta extraordinaria novela de R. H. Benson, publicada por primera vez en 1907, ocasión en la que se convirtió en un best-seller. Lejos de envejecer, este libro ha cobrado con los años una enorme actualidad, sobre todo si se toma en cuenta que el autor ubica los acontecimientos que narra justamente en nuestra época, a principios del siglo XXI. Fue, en este sentido, una novela futurista y quizás la primera obra del género de las distopí ...more
Rea Martin
Dec 30, 2016 Rea Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in 1907 and set one hundred years or so later in 21st century London--in other words, contemporary times. As such, the writing style is very traditional, which I believe must be taken into account in any review. (I may not be giving it 5 stars if it was written today.) Due to some pronoun confusion, it was sometimes difficult to identify the speaker in dialogue between two people of the same gender. Neither was it fast-paced, or rich with character development. Still, the s ...more
Dec 26, 2016 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An unsettling novel about a futuristic society that worships Man and reason while personal freedom and the supernatural are viewed as detrimental things. Benson's novel shows how our current society may be headed for a darker future if we continue on the path we are traveling down.
In the novel, a charismatic leader emerges who unites the whole world and establishes peace. He is anointed leader of the world, and as an anti-Christ figure helps issue in the impending time of doom.
Benson wrote the
Jan 13, 2017 Emilie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still very relevant, what he predicted pretty much happened in many regards... But I feel like there would be no need for the Felsenburgh character (although I understand why he’s in the novel, from the author’s point of view). I almost gave it three stars because the style didn’t catch my attention as much as the books I rated higher, but I would read it again.
Dec 11, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is old, is new....
A little difficult to follow at times for me, merely for the location of the story and the sometimes seemingly very descriptive way in which he writes, but the actual story/story line continues to be timely and cautionary....
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Apocalypse Whenever: So the Pope recommends a dystopian novel ... 23 144 Jul 31, 2015 11:39AM  
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Robert Hugh Benson (18 November 1871 – 19 October 1914) was an Anglican pastor who joined the Roman Catholic Church (1903) where he was ordained priest in 1904. Youngest son of Edward White Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury) and his wife, Mary, and younger brother of Edward Frederic Benson, he was lauded in his own day as one of the leading figures in English literature, having written the notable ...more
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“It was incredible, she told herself, that this ravening monster, dripping blood from claws and teeth, that had arisen roaring in the night, could be the Humanity that had become her God. She had thought revenge and cruelty and slaughter to be the brood of Christian superstition, dead and buried under the new-born angel of light, and now it seemed that the monsters yet stirred and lived.” 3 likes
“Yet Percy, even in the glimpses he had had in the streets, as he drove from the volor station outside the People's Gate, of the old peasant dresses, the blue and red-fringed wine carts, the cabbage-strewn gutters, the wet clothes flapping on strings, the mules and horses -- strange though these were, he had found them a refreshment. It had seemed to remind him that man was human, and not divine as the rest of the world proclaimed -- human, and therefore careless and individualistic; human, and therefore occupied with interests other than those of speed, cleanliness, and precision.” 1 likes
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