Hadrian the seventh is the 1904 novel by the english eccentric Frederick Rolfe or as he styled himself Fr. Rolfe (baron Corvo ) .Rolfe spent most of his life fascinated by the catholic church and its workings ,trying on a number of occasions to enter the seminary to be come a priest hence he shorten his first name to Fr. Rolfe to seem like a father.
the story can be considered semi autobiographical ,bt maybe a dream life that Rolfe wanted .It concerns George Arthur Rose a failing writer,chain smoker and cat lover who is whisked of to Rome ordained and ends up as the new pope as aa result of a deadlock on deciding who will be pope ,at that point rose becomes Hadrian the seventh of the title using the same papal name as the only other english pope .As the story unfold as he makes friends and enemies ,you get to see the workings of the church ,you ll laugh and cry as the story unfolds ,til the untimely end of Hadrian
“they brought him before the altar ;and set him in a crimson-velvet chair asking him what pontifical name He would choose
“Hadrian the seventh ” :the response came unhesitatingly ,undemonstratively ”
on becoming the pope from Hadrian the seventh
This volume I read was republished by nyrb classics in 2001 ,the cover is a lovely soft focus photo of the papal glove with nyrb usual block in top third with title etc