Books Catholics Should Read: The Modern Gentleman

Now here’s a smart little book for any man worthy of the name.  Dashing and delightful, sizzling and spicy, and altogether useful and inspiring, The Modern Gentleman is an essential bookshelf addition to the aspiring gent.

A miscellany of tips on manners abound, including:

  • when to clap at an opera or symphony
  • how to shop at thrift stores to fashion a distinctive style
  • where to take a lady on the first date (and how to know whether to continue to the romance, after)
  • alcohols to try before you die
  • how to work with a hangover
  • how to recover from conversational gaffes
  • how to rekindle flagging friendships (and how to know it’s time to allow bad friendships to flame out)
  • how to host a guest, and how to be one.
  • as well as “etiquette” for other odd situations, including skinny dipping and using the bathroom

The modern gentleman demonstrates restraint and respect, excellence and well-roundedness of character and intellect, and a joy and curiosity for life which he shares with others.  Rather than throwing tradition away, he educates himself in the classics so that he can become a true pilot of the new.  At all times he aims at self-improvement — at becoming the “dashing demiurge” instead of just “taking up space.”

Being a gentleman is not about following rules, or having certain skills or natural disposition.  The important lesson to take away from MG is that being a gentleman is all about attitude.  And attitude can be cultivated. Rules on manners can change, but it is the attitude — that of self-refinement — that remains constant regardless of the era or area.

I encourage you to pick up this book, and, in the concluding words of Mollod and Tesauro:

Best of luck to you, noble Cavalier of Life.  Go forward with strength, grace, mindfulness, and an occasional glass of Chartreuse.  The world will follow behind you.

in short…

Content:  Tips in topic-specific chapters written so you can start reading at any point in the book, but don’t forget to check out the introduction and conclusion!
Style:  Written with wit.  Punchy and poetic.  Memorable and delightful.  Mollod and Tesauro meticulously pen each word with pointed purpose and literary flair.  Textbook example of fine writing.
Catholic?:  While restraint is one of the cardinal virtues of a gentleman, clearly the authors buy into the aphorism that “moderation taken to an extreme is bad for you.”  Once in a rare while (or in a whole chapter…),
MG encourages indulgence in unsavory behaviors.  I’ll leave you to read and find out.  On the other hand, MG also demonstrates flashes of insights into the human condition which can be very, if inadvertently, Catholic indeed.

Overall:  3/5

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