Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Damnation of Theron Ware” as Want to Read:
The Damnation of Theron Ware
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Damnation of Theron Ware

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  876 ratings  ·  101 reviews
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.
Kindle Edition, 230 pages
Published May 17th 2012 (first published 1896)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Damnation of Theron Ware, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Damnation of Theron Ware

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  876 ratings  ·  101 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Damnation of Theron Ware
E. G.
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note on the Text

--The Damnation of Theron Ware, or Illumination

Suggestions for Further Reading
The Damnation of Theron Ware: Or Illumination is about a young Methodist priest. He and his wife have moved to a small town in upstate New York. Every three years the priests are moved around. He didn’t get the township he wanted, but he was young and happy and looked forward to the new position with optimism. We watch what happens in the following year. Theon Ware is the priest and Alice is his young wife. It is the turn of the 20th century.

Look at the title. When the book first came out in Ame
Ben Hallman
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, I've read a book that never once would've come into contact with my bookshelf had it not been for my American Lit class. I hadn't heard of The Damnation of Theron Ware until it showed up on the syllabus, but, being one never to shy away from a good story about goin' to hell, I looked forward to Harold Frederic's minor classic. And, fortunately, it turned out to be a damn fine novel. (I made a pun. I'm witty.)

Now makes for a good time to drop some knowledge gleaned from American Lit:
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s easy enough these days to pick out those among us consumed with puritanical fanaticism: “The Puritan’s idea of hell is a place where everyone has to mind his own business,” as Harold Frederic writes in The Damnation of Theron Ware. What’s harder sometimes – and perhaps it’s as difficult in our day as it was in Frederic’s – is to pick out the mentally flabby, the spiritually corrupt. Frederic’s 1896 novel tracks the progress downward – or upward, depending on your point of view (the British ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Karen Legge
Reading Thoughts:

22 JAN 2014 -- Having been visited upon by the "trinity of evil," Theron makes a veiled threat and, poof, the evil trinity is gone. I know they will be back!

28 JAN 2014 -- Theron is a young man feeling his way in the world. He is too naive to really understand the machinations of the narrow-minded thinking of the trinity of evil. This committee of churchmen have long forgotten the beauty of the Church.

29 JAN 2014 -- Typical man-thought! Theron is acting in an inappropriate man
Will Waller
Assigned for a class, this book had all the makings of being a real bore. It’s a 19th century book on a Methodist minister, written by an author I had never heard lauded, with Victorian language (flowery!). I was looking forward to reading something less dry than what I had been reading for class but given the other books assigned, this was not difficult.

Boy, I was surprised by this book. It’s ability to go into new depths regarding the troubles facing pastors in the 19th century and today was
Carolyn Kost
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rel-spir
This is an extraordinary book. I wish that I had read it while in school to be more fully aware of the symbolism throughout, but the young minister's story is compelling on even the most superficial level of plot. Reverend Theron Ware is assigned to serve a congregation in a dull and extremely conservative backwater, where paradoxically, he encounters the most irresistible of temptations: the life of the mind. The consequences for his vocation, his marriage and his worldview are seismic.

The pro
Alex Stroshine
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The tale of a Methodist minister who becomes increasingly enamoured with the love of learning, the exoticism of Catholicism, and a beautiful woman. A stern warning for those who come to bemoan what they have while craving what is not theirs.
As hysterical revivalisms and ignorant orthodoxies remain widespread, it seems neither illumination nor damnation have smitten the benighted.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of American Literature
Illumination is the only title this book should really have. This is not a Gothic horror of a young man's fall from grace, the sort of thing I so loved in Le Calvaire and which Octave Mirbeau depicted so exquisitely. This tale is too American for that.

What I thought about while reading is that history, as good as it is, can never give you the vivid picture of an era that a good novel can. And this novel is good. The story tells how a naive young Protestant preacher of the 1880's in New York Stat
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grad-school
I wish we had more from Frederic, as I really loved this novel. Some might say the irony is a bit overdone, but I love the twists it adds to his tale. You can neither absolutely condemn nor admire just about any of these characters. The only one whose potential for redemption is Alice, but even then we see very little of her and her association with Theron and passive role makes it difficult to fully engage. Frederic spares no one in this tale, offering a grim outlook for a humanity which underg ...more
David Fulmer
Theron Ware is a Methodist minister sent to a small town called Octavius to provide the spiritual sustenance for a very small congregation. Therein he must navigate the competing demands of his own heart, those of his wife, and his church trustees. He also comes to learn of some of the less pure aspects of the church and falls in with a Catholic priest, a man of science, and a seductively decadent rich girl who variously tempt and enlighten him in any number of ways. By the time Ware is deemed a ...more
Anna Groover
Interesting novel--basically a Faustian tale of a preacher tempted by intellectualism/academia/the occult. Theron was kind of terrible but I don't think he was ever supposed to be lovable. I liked Frederic's prose quite a bit. ...more
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phd
Absolute bop and a half!!!!
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alice by: Michael
I liked this very much. Very easy to read with an engaging plot. There were no real cliff hangers at the ends of chapters but I certainly wanted read into the next chapter. The author does a great job of engaging the reader with an interesting plot while weaving in his themes without being pedantic. And I enjoyed some of the subtle humor/satire of the thoughts inside the character's heads.

Theron is certainly a weak and immature character with little redeeming qualities. Yet I did feel sorry for
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Damnation of Theron Ware is a compelling take on American Christianity at the end of the nineteenth century. Theron is a rhetorically gifted young Methodist pastor who, to his horror, is assigned a parish in a small town in northern New York. (The opening scenes are a comedic portrait of Methodist politics at the turn of the century). Immediately disillusioned by his ‘backward’ congregation, Theron becomes fascinated by the local Irish Catholic community and their priest, Father Forbes. He i ...more
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, before-1950
The only thing interesting to me about this book was its repeated concept of degenerateness, spiritual and physical. The sins of the father becoming encoded genetically and spiritually upon the son, until ultimately a line would die out from utter decrepitude.

The plot is relatively simple. A young preacher is posted to a town. He means well but is vain and shallow and doesn't understand the larger social politics at work. Hence, certain doom for the naive idiot. His main detractor is a woman who
Krista Alice
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the best character piece I have ever read. People ask me why I buy books because they llok nice, or were published before 1800, or other seemingly meaningless criteria. This is why. I NEVER would have picked up this book based on its description, but I’m so glad I did.
Robbie Forkish
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It should be obvious that it doesn't end well for our protagonist, Theron Ware. But before we get into the plot, some context. The Damnation of Theron Ware is deemed a "minor classic" novel from the 19th century. I had not previously heard of the author or the book. I can't remember where I heard of it; I think it was a blog regarding immigration, where this was cited as an example that it's not a new problem. And the book sets the tone of the times very well, including the indignation and outra ...more
Darth Readius
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what to expect when I bought this used for a Dollar at my library. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is psychologically, sociologically, and religiously insightful. His depiction of the church is all to often true, unfortunately. Although Alice retains her religion and remains a saint through the whole thing despite the worst treatment.

This book is funny, insightful, sad, tragic, and depressing at different times. Despite loosing his religion, that he never really embraced corre
Isaac R. Fellman
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frederic brings off something really weird here, a novel in which the main character catches on to almost nothing that the reader knows, not the least his own descent into narcissistic delusion. I think this strolls too much down too many paths, and the whole conceit that Theron is the least interesting and changeable person in his world — with the other characters’ grand dramas, pretensions, and love triangles seen only glancingly — ends up being kind of dull to read, though it is structurally ...more
Richard Fitzgerald
This is an amazing (and somewhat depressing) cautionary tale. I alternated between feeling sorry for, hating, loving, wanting to slap up side the head Theon Wares. Was it the bad appointment, the bad associations, the questionable reading matter, or a weak character that caused his downfall? Or, is it, as in real life, far more complex than any one of these things. I can’t say this is a great novel, but it is well worth any Methodist preacher’s time to read and contemplate.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish it didn't have a happy(ish) ending. I was hoping for total damnation.

For a book that was written in 1896, it's remarkably contemporary and is highly recommended for all teenage and twenty-something boys and men. Some things you need to see written down.
Matt Allhands
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an underappreciated novel this is. Frederic uses his narrative voice to put you in the shoes of Theron Ware as he wrestles through the in's and out's of maintaining integrity in the context of Pastoral Ministry, Marriage, and friendship. Well worth the read. ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Theron, the whole world is up against him, his bishop, the leaders of his little country church, what should he do?

Perhaps try to join a clique of intellectuals, but poorly. That's the way of the world right?
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Preacher, entranced by woman in Progressive Society, superficially gives up faith for her sake. He is indifferent to his wife and no longer grounds his faith in anything; challenging and alarming book, in so many ways.
Austen to Zafón
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-tp, classic
A study in pride, leading to the self-damnation of the main character.
Jeff Keehr
I read this for a graduate course in literature. I remember a great line: He did it up brown. I really can't recall much else about the book. ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure if realist novels are my thing, but I did enjoy the second-half of this book.
Molly Jones
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really excellent book, especially if you've witnessed the politics of a religious congregation. Relatable too. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • McTeague
  • Billy Budd, Sailor
  • Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
  • Washington Square
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • The Moviegoer
  • Daisy Miller
  • The Further Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Robinson Crusoe #2)
  • Women in Love
  • Pagan Apocalypse (Wrath of the Old Gods #1)
  • Dream Chasers: A Journey of Faith
  • The Complete Wreck (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-13)
  • Sister Carrie
  • Indignation
  • Light in August
  • O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1)
  • White Jacket or, the World in a Man-of-War
  • The House of the Seven Gables
See similar books…
Frederic was born in Utica, New York, to Presbyterian parents. After his father was killed in a train accident when Frederic was 18 months old, the boy was raised primarily by his mother. He finished school at fifteen, and soon began work as a photographer. For four years he was a photographic touch-up artist in his hometown and in Boston. In 1875 he began work as a proofreader for the Utica Heral ...more

News & Interviews

  If you listen to NPR regularly, you’ve likely heard the voice of Shankar Vedantam, the longtime science correspondent and host of the radio...
15 likes · 2 comments
“I am in love with your sinners,” responded Theron, as he shook hands with Celia, and trusted himself to look fully into her eyes. “I’ve had five days of the saints, over in another part of the woods, and they’ve bored the head off me.” 2 likes
“Meredith,' interposed Celia, 'makes one of his women, Emilia in England, say that poetry is like talking on tiptoe; like animals in cages, always going to one end and back again.” 1 likes
More quotes…