Biography of Michael D. O’Brien Recently Published
On the Edge of Infinity by Clemens Cavallin is a biography on the life and work of Mr. Michael D. O’Brien, whom Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College is honoured to have as our Artist and Writer in Residence. Published in the spring of this year by Justin Press, its author is Clemens Cavallin, Associate Professor in History of Religions at the University of Gothenberg, Sweden, and like his subject matter, is also a painter, husband and father of six.
Book Review Editor of Convivium magazine Richard Bastien ranks the book “ among the great biographies.” He writes: “It is a rare experience to read a biography whose subject comes alive as one turns the pages. Clemens Cavallin brings to this book his gifts as a writer, but also his profound sympathy with his subject, a combination which has given us a work worthy of Michael O’Brien.”
According to a review by apologist Dr. Peter Kreeft, Cavallin “shows, rather than tells us, who and what [Michael O’Brien] is.” Writes Kreeft: “Michael O’Brien is, I believe, the greatest living Catholic novelist, so it is high time someone wrote his biography… if readers of his riveting novels want the additional adventure of getting to know the author, this book is the way to do it. There are not many people in the world who are more worth meeting.” Kreeft identifies three stories in the book, that of the externals of O’Brien’s life, his spiritual and interior life, and “the literary and artistic story of the creation and fate of his novels and paintings.”
The biography tells the story of O’Brien’s faith through many challenges in his life, from childhood experiences in a residential school in the Northwest Territories, to raising his large family in poverty and dependence. His creative works, although confirmed by experts as having immense potential for success in his style and techniques, met with decades of rejection. In a talk given in Texas, in May of 2015, O’Brien described his experience: “Then came about twenty years of collecting rejection letters for my novels and from art galleries, all of them subtly offering success if I would only adapt the faith dimension to a more ‘contemporary’ worldview. But always, there was an inner thread in me that said, ‘No, I’m not going to play by the world’s rules. This is how they are corrupting nearly everything. The lie controls most of contemporary culture, and I’m not going to cooperate.’”
When asked what he thought of this biography about himself, O’Brien said the book demonstrates the trials of being a Christian writer in a hostile environment, but with characteristic humility, he noted that the biography primarily “bears witness to the working of God’s grace in my life.” And he added with pride, that it has a whole chapter dedicated to Our Lady Seat of Wisdom!
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