RogerBW's Blog

The Translation of Father Torturo, Brendan Connell 29 December 2021

2005 gothic giallo. Father Xaviero Torturo rises from obscurity to become Pope; it helps that he speaks with the tongue of a saint.

So naturally this rests somewhat on the conceit of Hadrian the Seventh, but rather than claim that the principal is the only good man in a bad world, Connell is happy to say that Torturo is just as bad as the rest of them, probably worse… but he is whole-hearted about it, which allows him to prevail. (His cousin the Mafia assassin, who's happy to work freelance, doesn't hurt matters.)

There's decadence here, and torture, and letting the punishment fit the crime. Black magic too, which does somewhat defeat any tension: after all, if we don't know what it can do, how can we know whether Torturo can't simply wave his hands and get out of a bad situation? (To be fair, there's one point at which we certainly know that that's not possible.)

It's scheming and manipulation and blackmail and if Torturo thinks he can set the church to rights, he may be correct. But of course he has enemies, at least those he's been foolish enough to leave alive.

It's all rather silly, but great fun if one's in a misanthropic mood.

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See also:
Hadrian the Seventh, Frederick Rolfe

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