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The Damnation of Theron Ware

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  828 ratings  ·  96 reviews
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Kindle Edition, 230 pages
Published May 17th 2012 (first published 1896)
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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
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:
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
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
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.

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
Shelves: 19th-century
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
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 ...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.
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
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
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 ...more
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.
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?
B. Mason
Frederic's feat is a precise holding and adjusting of perspective, one that builds and ultimately crescendos in a vein so awkward and uncomfortable it left me squirming. The theological discussions too, are robust and would be right at home in discourse of 2019...which isn't such a great thing.
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.
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.
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.
Austen to Zafón
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, own-tp
A study in pride, leading to the self-damnation of the main character.
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.
Lindsay Tucker
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.
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.
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A naive Methodist minister encounters a learned doctor and an old Catholic priest who suggest to him ideas altogether new to his intellect. He is taken by these new thoughts and reads many progressive books and quickly transforms from the audience to "backstage," where "you see that the trees and houses are cloth, and the moon is tissue paper, and the flying fairy is a middle-aged woman strung up on a rope. That doesn't prove the play, out in front, isn't beautiful and affecting, it only shows ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Basically a major mid-life crisis.

This is a longish 3 part relationship story of Evanglist Theron. It was written in 1896 in realist style centred in a small town near New York and its religious communities. It was actually a rather simple yet cleverly deep story: Theron a happily married protestant leader decides to write a book about the biblical person Abraham and goes to the Catholic priest Forbes and his scholar doctor friend Ledsmar to get some help. Theron in one conversation learns how
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
If more older books were as engaging as this hundred-year-old book, I'd read more of them. This was recommended to me quite a while back by my friend George Minot, and it was a good recommendation. A young Methodist minister, hoping for an appointment to a fashionable urban church, is appointed instead to a small, backward-looking, congregation in a small town. Ironically, it is there that, in spite of his ingrained anti-Catholicism and suspicion of modernism, he befriends the local Catholic ...more
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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 ...more
“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.” 1 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
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