M. Owen Lee, a member of the Basilian Fathers, is Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Toronto, where he recently received an Outstanding Teacher Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Author of books of Virgil's Aeneid and Horace's Odes, he is best-known for his books on opera: First Intermissions, Wagner's Ring, A Season of Opera, and The Operagoer's Guide. Father Owen Lee is to opera what Chesterton's Father Brown was to crime detection. For 20 years Father Lee has been a beloved presence on the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday afternoon Chevron-Texaco broadcasts as an always knowledgeable guest on Opera Quiz and as an ever-insightful commentator on operatic stories, music, and themes. A classics professor in his "day job," Father Lee is the author of 14 books, mostly on opera. A Book of Hours is a departure for Father Lee: a personal memoir, cast in the form of a secular breviary, that recreates a year Father Lee spent teaching at an American college campus in Rome over a quarter century ago. The book draws together in an intricate web of refracting relationships the three great loves of Father Lee's life: opera, literature, and his life and work as a priest. A Eurail pass allowed him to visit all the great opera houses of Europe, which in turn reflected on his teaching in the classroom during the week: Homer and Virgil, Whitman and Rilke. And all of this is set in the context of a personal crisis-impending hearing loss, theological doubts, and the celibate's inevitable regret, at age forty, that he cannot share his remaining years with children of his own. In this inspiring and beautifully crafted book, Father Lee shows us how religious faith and a deeply humanistic culture need never be enemies, but rather can be a source of mutual enrichment.
-Mention. Mojo/ May 1, 2007 --,
"Lee's insightful and witty comments on such famous operas as Aida and Zauberflute reveal him to be not just an opera critic but a man of much learning and erudition, "an authentically humanist Christian soul" as one reviewer put it."-Willard Manus, "What's Up, "April 2007--,
"Opera, literature, priesthood, and teaching; these four great loves of Father Owen Lee are woven together into a vivid tapestry...[a] vivid, poignant personal memoir" "In my judgement it is authentiticity of a life offered as a prayer - offered in all its range of eros, faith and beauty - that marks this work and renders it worthy" --, "Worship "
"Theological arguments, ethical dilemmas, and discussions with colleagues and students about Homer, Horace, Sappho, and Wagner mix with lively descriptions of Rome. [Lee] illuminates every experience with infinite shades of meaning .in every facet of this exquisite memoir Father Lee communicates a fertile affirmation of life." -Pamela Margles, Wholenote, February 1, 2005--,
-Mention. Mojo/ May 1, 2007--,
"Lee's insightful andwitty comments on such famous operas as Aida and Zauberflute reveal him to benot just an opera critic but a man of much learning and erudition, "anauthentically humanist Christian soul" as one reviewer put it."-Willard Manus, "What's Up, "April 2007--,
finely crafted and deeply moving memoir his book is redolent with an imagination that is comprehensively catholic and profoundly sacramental. A Book of Hours explores human imagination s heights and depths. Owen Lee s Book of Hours sings, ultimately, of God s sacramental imagination. He chants a sacrificial liturgy for all seasons. America, 2/21/05
How can a memoir whose main action involves travelling by train across Europe to attend opera performances be so exciting? A Book of Hours focuses on a year Father Owen Lee spent teaching at an American college in Rome sometime in the 1950 s. His subject is the power of beauty to place him face to face with something, someone, deep within me and at the same time infinitely beyond. He illuminates every experience with infinite shades of meaning. His candour is poignant. But in every facet of this exquisite memoir Father Lee communicates a fertile affirmation of life. The Wholenote Magazine, 2/05
With his wonderfully synthetic mind he weaves together his thoughts about classics, opera, composers, conversations with bright, questing students, reflections on his travels, the people he meets, observations on how an atrocity from antiquity connects to the modern, our propensity for repeating rather than learning from the past, strands of thought that continually converse with and enlighten one another. Conversations with his students who seem to tell him absolutely everything and to whom he responds in a way that embraces, challenges, and inspires were particularly intimate and affecting. I was sorry to have reached the last page. Anyone who enjoys Father Lee s spacious way of seeing and integrating experience will enjoy his memoir Beth Hart
"From the first page of A Book of Hours, I was caught up in Father Lee's fascinating memoir of the year he taught in Rome. His perceptive thoughts and brilliant writing allow us the privilege of sharing his adventure as he intertwines classics, religion, teaching, travel and especially opera--the loves of his life. I felt as if I was on a remarkable journey, an exploration of new worlds... For the millions of us who know Fr. Lee from his marvelous opera intermission radio broadcasts as well as his tapes on opera and his numerous books, A Book of Hours is a feast, a joy and an insightful and powerful journey into the inner thoughts of the man himself."