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NOTE: This page was originally created by a vandal attempting to plug a section on Norman Boutin's homepage. It has since been repurposed to examine his notorious vanity in doing so.

Sometime before January 9, 2020[1], Norman Boutin added a new page to his Empress Theresa web site, "The GENIUS of Empress Theresa".

As with every other part of the site, it was a hamfisted attempt to sell the book and the idea of his own unparalleled genius.

The following is the text that appeared on the page on April 16, 2020[2], with notes and commentary.


Empress Theresa raises the bar of modern day writing in many ways.

There is much that could be written just on this one sentence. Boutin has proudly declared that he doesn't read many modern books. He is utterly disdainful of other writers, especially when they fail to praise his genius in all of its facets. He expresses contempt for genre fiction in general, apparently because it is low class or, in his words, "mind-rot for the moronic masses."[3]

And yet, Empress Theresa is his first novel. He has not done the work to learn his craft. He hasn't put his writing through professional editing, or even writers' groups or workshops. No author, no editor, other than Boutin himself, defends his book or his writing. Most have expressed the opinion, many times, that Boutin's grasp of the tools of narrative fiction is weak, at best.

And yet, Boutin declares himself and his book to be better than modern writing, and a challenge to other authors. This bombast is typical of narcissists.

Further, as a position to defend with logical argumentation, it is almost laughable. What is "the bar" of "modern day writing"? Boutin never says. What would constitute "raising" it? Boutin does not define this. What if his idea of raising it is seen as a lowering by others? "Aw, shut up!" is probably the response you will get from him.

As a position to take in an argument, it's open to all sorts of attack before the argument even begins, but Boutin does not seem to understand this. He makes no attempt to define what he means, or the measures his statements should be measured against.

Of course, Boutin doesn't want any disagreement at all. He is merely trying to impress people with value-laden words and phrases. In other words, this is more marketing copy than argumentation.

And even as marketing copy, it is overblown, hubristic, and childish.

Point 1: The story is about a teenage girl just setting out to finding her place in the world. The flexibility and potential of youth define the future. This is illustrated in Theresa who changes the world with her firm moral compass and bravery.

To say that Boutin is not very good at making a coherent argument is, at this point, a cliche, but it remains true.

The point, and the points following, are clearly intended to support his statement that his book "raises the bar of modern day writing", and yet, he is lost in a sea of vague and disconnected statements from the outset.

In what way could a story "about a teenage girl just setting out to find her place in the world" be raising the bar of modern writing? Remember, this is his very first point in support of his position. That's akin to saying "My novel will revolutionize everything! It's about a boy meeting a girl!"

Then we get "The flexibility and potential of youth define the future," and if your eyes glazed over reading that semantically empty statement, well, no one can blame you. But, as with many things narcissists say, it sounds big and important, so as to impress the reader or listener, but the meaning of the statement is of no importance at all. And what the flexibility and potential of youth have to do with Empress Theresa revolutionizing modern writing in toto is, well, also not important. What is important is that you be impressed with Norman Boutin, and accept that he is superior to you and me and everybody.

"This is illustrated in Theresa who changes the world with her firm moral compass and bravery."

Theresa changes the world with her super powers. Her "firm moral compass" causes her to target anyone who opposes her or does things in ways she does not like. (In fairness, narcissists truly feel that this is morality.) And her "bravery" is no such thing, since she is invulnerable.

Her power and influence are so great that if she made a negative public statement about anybody that person's life would be hell, but she never does that.

Norman Boutin, being a narcissist, has never understood why this sales line has never had the effect he wants it to have. Even without going over how untrue it is --- Theresa abuses her power to terrorize a lawyer so that the lawyer will drop a lawsuit against her, and both Theresa and Boutin are proud of this, as one example --- it jars badly with other claims made about the book.

The fetishization of power and influence are clearly the point here, and the "but she never does that" is a fig leaf. How does a teenage girl having the power and influence to destroy lives fit with a story about a girl finding her place in the world? The former is the story of how a tyrant came to power, the latter is a slice of life, perhaps with a moral of finding happiness with what you have. They don't fit.

Point 2: The bookstores are full of young adult novels, but most of them are about teenage problems, bad parenting, bullying, drugs, alcohol, bad friends, depression, and such personal problems, or they are about dystopian futures like The Hunger Games, or some such scifi. There are very few stories in which young people deal with a realistic adult world. I can think of Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, and that’s about all I’m aware of. Empress Theresa deals with issues in the adult world: the weather, food supply, oil supply, the Arab/Israel conflict, the North Korean dictatorship, and terrorism. 

Let us leave aside Boutin's casual dismissal of the idea that young adult books should deal with topics that are relevant to young adults. Not to mention his out-of-touch belief that physical bookstores are relevant fixtures of the buying landscape in 2020. Let us also pass over his disdain for genre with "some such scifi".

His point is "There are very few stories in which young people deal with a realistic adult world." And, of course, Empress Theresa is supposed to be the answer to that lack.

Most of these could have made for a good young adult adventure that gave the reader some insight into the adult world.

"Food supply" is something frequently dealt with in dystopian scifi stories. If civilization and thus trade have fallen apart, then where your next meal comes from is a very important issue. (Such as in Harlan Ellison's A Boy And His Dog.) Taking it to another level, a story about setting up a supply chain and then protecting it could make a very compelling story. (And does, in O.T. Nelson's The Girl Who Built A City.)

"Oil supply"? Well, I don't know any YA books that deal with that in particular, but the oil trade and its necessity to the modern world has certainly served as story fodder for authors over the years. James Clavell's Whirlwind showed a western oil company dealing with the 1979 revolution in Iran, where getting not just people, but vital assets for transporting oil, out of the country before the revolutionary government seized them, was the main driving force of the plot.

"The Arab/Israel conflict"? You could write many, many books exploring this, and still have only scratched the surface of the topic.

"The North Korean dictatorship"? Again, plenty of grist for story material here, especially as more and more survivors' stories are getting told in the west.

"Terrorism", again, much the same.

Apart from "the weather", which is so vague that to call it "an issue of the adult world" is almost laughable, any of these topics might have made for a good book.

[Aside: Including "the weather" as something to "deal with" in the "realistic adult world" is another amusing example of Boutin's lack of command of his use of language. "The weather" is the classic example of a safe topic, which is why when talking with a stranger, you talk about it — something about which the late Richard Mitchell memorably digressed in his excellent Less Than Words Can Say. If Boutin were a little more cognizant about things, he might try to convince those who haven't read the book that climate change is the concern it addresses. But what he really means, of course, is that he hates winter, so he had Theresa end it.]

The problem is, all of them are complicated. Complex. Difficult to understand in a summary fashion. If a book is supposed to prepare a young reader for dealing with one of these topics in the real world, it has to deal with the complicated subject and also get the reader to understand, to some degree, just how complicated the subject actually is.

Can anyone really do that with half a dozen complicated subjects in the space of one book? Boutin apparently thinks so. Given how Israeli Jews viewed his grasp of "the Arab/Israeli conflict", he was even less successful in dealing with it than the limited narrative space he had for it might suggest.

Instead, it is easy to intuit that mentioning the book deals with such hot button real world issues is done only to give Empress Theresa an undue sense of gravitas, not to actually explore the complexities of the issues and their possible solutions. This becomes abundantly clear when the reader sees how Theresa solves these issues by using her super powers to conjure some patently ridiculous, even downright cartoony perfect solution out of thin air. Such as creating a new continent to house Israeli refugees, importing natural resources from the sun, and realigning the planet to change the cycle of seasons.

Point 3: Empress Theresa is fun to read.

Something that many, many readers of the book have disputed.

Who is the author to make such an all-encompassing claim anyway?

I don't think it's out of bounds to say such things as a means of marketing, so long as the book actually backs up the claims to some extent. I mean, this is a page on which the author himself is arguing that his book is not only a work of genius, but one which stands as a challenge to all other current writing. In that context, saying that it is fun to read is downright modest. --DJF

Most stories written today are too grim.

By what standard? And how would Boutin know, since he refuses to read such "mind rot for the moronic masses"?

Writers probably do this to make their stories look 'powerful'.

Mr. Boutin is a mind-reader, if you did not know. Able to discern the motivations of people he has not met.

What's actually going on here is a fairly elementary persuasion trick, which Boutin, of course, cannot manage to do very well. "Here's a thing most other people do, and here is why, but ah, I am much better than they are, and do this instead."

Why would you read something that doesn't give you pleasure?

Well, work or homework. But the books Boutin is talking about sell to people because those are the books those people want to read. Again a classic narcissist move, with Norman assuming his tastes speak for the population at large.

Here are comments by Amazon five star reviewers: Robert Shuler's long review ends with the remark, "I say good work....let's have a sequel"

Amazingly enough, Shuler's was a legitimate review.

Karrit wrote, "A gem of modern literature." Kevin Brown wrote, "Love this book." Non mess wrote, "To say I loved it would be an understatement." Joe Blow wrote, "It ought to be recipient of Best Novel by Hugo Awards." Iggy wrote, "Nice work, Norman Boutin. Keep up the good work. I enjoyed the story thoroughly."

One of these reviews, at least, was written as a deliberate troll of Boutin. And the reviewer (known personally to this writer) remains amused that Boutin keeps using it as "proof" that his book is great.

The fact also remains that "fun to read" is nothing that is going to set modern writing on fire.

Point 4: Empress Theresa has an outstanding role model. Theresa is a wonderful girl. Amazon five star reviewer Non mess writes, "Give empress theresq a try if you're seeking a good role model." A mother who read the book with her nine yo daughter wrote. "My daughter's words.....I like Theresa. She is a nice girl and there are not many of those these days. I hope I am a good girl. I want to be good too."

This point neatly ignores the many reviewers, including smedlock[4], who decried the book and Theresa as a terrible role model for young girls, noting Theresa's contempt for people beneath her class, and her continuing obsession with her looks. The author is clearly hearing only what he wants to hear, and accepting only sources that reinforce what he already believes.

Point 5: Empress Theresa has simplicity.

Now, having "convinced" us that Empress Theresa "raises the bar on modern day writing" by telling a story about a young woman dealing with a realistic adult world, which is of necessity complicated, Boutin contradicts himself and declares that its best virtue is its simplicity.

The recent bestseller "The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo" according to the wikipedia article about the book has twenty-nine characters.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has a large cast for excellent reasons inherent in the nature of the story that it tells. The book has faults, but using the number of characters necessary to the story is not one of them.

Empress Theresa has only ten major speaking roles:

The number of "major speaking roles" is not a determinant of quality in a novel. A novel is limited only by its length and the imagination of its author.

If Boutin were trying to argue "I wrote an excellent low-budget screenplay, because not only does it tell an amazing story, but it can be shot on a low budget and a tight schedule because there are only ten speaking parts, and one main location and three secondary locations," then he would be making a strong argument for the aptness of the script for a small production, though the quality of the story would still be supported only by his assertion that it is good.

But for a novel, stating "there are only X major speaking roles" as if it is a virtue of the story is absurd. There should be as many, or as few, characters as the story requires to be told.

Theresa and Steve Hartley, Jan Struthers, Father Donuoughty, Prime Minister Blair, Prime Minister Scherzer, President Stinson, and in the Parker mansion, Edmund and Helen Parker, and Arthur Bemming.

I have probably commented on this elsewhere, likely on the 10,000 comment thread on Amazon, but Boutin's fetish for proudly stating character names as if that magically puts those characters fully formed into prospective readers' minds, has always reminded me of Inside the Actors' Studio when the host, James Lipton, talks with his interview subject about some soap opera role either he or the interviewee played, which nobody in the audience would be likely to know. "He, of course, played Dr. John Smith on The Guiding Light for ten episodes in the nineteen seventies..."

Listing the names accomplishes nothing for the argument being made, but does remind the reader how awful Boutin is with naming some of his characters. Sir Walter Scott's "Reverend Dryasdust" is embarrassed by the name "Father Dounoughty", and "Prime Minister Blair" isn't a nod to Tony Blair, it's the entire Monty Python "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" sketch to him.

Their relationships with each other and with Theresa are simple because they have no conflicting interests. They all want Theresa to succeed.

In other words, there is no drama in the book at all. Drama is conflict, both internal and external.

Name a Shakespeare play with no conflicting interests, where everybody wants the protagonist to succeed.

Name a novel that everybody has heard of that has no conflicting interests, and all the characters want the main character to succeed. Would Les Miserables be remembered today if Javert said, "Well, Jean Valjean did steal that bread, but he was only feeding his family when they were starving, and besides, he's spent quite enough time paying for it, let the poor fellow go"? Would The Brothers Karamazov be upheld as the greatest novel of all time if Mitya, Vanya, and Alyosha all agreed on everything and had no philosophical differences? Would Lord Jim be of any interest if Jim decided "You know what? You're right, nobody even remembers that incident any more, I'll just pretend, even to myself, that it never happened"?

Ridiculous.

Simplicity can work, as in Siddhartha or The Old Man And The Sea. But without conflict, there is really no story to tell. Especially considering Empress Theresa already stars a literally omnipotent protagonist.

Point 6: One element common to most lives is the unexpected. The valedictorian giving his optomistic [sic] speech at his high school graduation tells the crowd the world is theirs and anything is possible while he faces hundreds of the graduates's [sic] parents who never achieved all their goals. What can prepare people for the unexpected?
Theresa only wanted to be a high school math teacher, but she will never have a job. At eighteen she is thrown onto the world stage with responsibilities for which neither she nor anybody else could have been prepared. The only thing that can get her through these trials is her character.

One wonders which human lives have nothing unexpected in them. The first sentence is Boutin trying to sound wise and learned, of course, while he is only stating something that virtually everybody already knows.

You might say that "dealing with the unexpected" is another way of defining what drama is, and perhaps even more so, what a thriller is. David Mamet's underrated film Spartan is literally about the protagonist constantly having to re-improvise his plans when the last plan didn't work the way he expected it to, all in service of saving a girl who was kidnapped (unexpectedly). Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley books are entirely about Ripley adapting and re-adapting to unexpected results from his sociopathic plans. Virtually every super hero origin story trades on the hero having gotten his or her powers unexpectedly, and having to adapt.

So to say that Empress Theresa "raises the bar on modern day writing" by facing its protagonist with something unexpected is silly. Stories are, in the abstract, about dealing with change. Change is almost always unexpected, either in the event, or in its results.

It is noted, also and with amusement, that Boutin appears to be trying to create sympathy for Theresa with a point that amounts to "oh, boo hoo, poor Theresa only wanted to be a schoolteacher, but instead she got terrifying super powers and reshaped the world to her liking and scared literally everybody on the planet into conforming with her individual notions of How The World Should Be."

Point 7: Empress Theresa illustrates emotional and intellectual development.

Saying it does not make it so. Any story should show a character growing and changing, even in a small way. That's more or less what stories are for. So saying that his story does it does not really support Boutin's assertion that his book will set a new standard for modern fiction.

In chapter 1 we see Theresa as a ten year old. She doesn't know much about how the world works and has no serious emotional swings since she's not being seriously challenged.

No serious emotional swings? This only demonstrates that Boutin has not dealt at length with any ten year olds in a very long time.

She shows no signs of being an exceptionally effective person. Well, we'll see about that!

Boutin's tendency to make such declarations at inapt times is further evidence that he does not understand how other people think. "Well, we'll see about that!" is marketing copy, maybe, something to put into an advertisement or an interview, if appropriate. As part of a point supporting his argument that his book "raises the bar of modern day writing" it is inept, a tonally inappropriate remark that contributes nothing to the argument he is supposed to be supporting.

It is something to say "if appropriate", but Boutin seems to have no clear grasp of when anything is appropriate or not. He wants to impress you, so he interjects "Well, we'll see about that!" and if anybody suggests that the interjection doesn't fit the context, well, those people are whatever his epithet of dismissal is that day. Internet trolls or part of the internet conspiracy against him, or whatever. Never is it ever to be considered that he could have made a misstep.

Before the end of the story she looks back on what she's done and asks herself, "How did I come so far?"

Boutin clearly thinks that this line will impress people who have not yet read the book. No such person has yet to come to light.

The answer to that question is the story.

As a moment of denouement, assuming the story leading up to it earned that moment, it could be effective. As a piece of marketing bluster, it is entirely ineffective because the people being told to be impressed by it haven't read the story, and so there is nothing to "wow" them about it.

As an item to support the idea that his book changes the standards for literature, it is a non sequitur.


Point 8: Empress Theresa dares to mention God and his [sic] involvement in human events. Some people don't like to be reminded of that.

This point is pure Norman Boutin: confrontational, passive aggressive, dismissive, and badly misjudged for both his stated and his implicit purposes.

His explicit purpose is to persuade the reader that his book is a work of genius, and not only a work of genius, but one of such magnitude that it will set a new standard for all narrative fiction to be measured against.

(Pause and consider the sheer Christian humility implicit in this.)

At the time of this writing, it is generally held that contemporary "christian fiction" is bad, whether judged by the standards of fiction, or by the standards of theology.[5] Nevertheless, even modern fiction has examples of well-regarded books that treat religion and religious belief seriously.[6]

Despite the picture painted by some evangelical Christians, even strident atheists can and do recognize great works of art, no matter how religious, no matter how intrinsic religion is to the work itself. No less an atheist than Ayn Rand held Fyodor Dostoevsky to be one of the two greatest authors in history.[7] Considering that Dostoevsky's thematic concerns are the exploration of how, in his view, the abandonment of belief in God necessitates a collapse in morality[8], one would think he would be dismissed or ignored outright by an avowed atheist like Rand. At least, one would think it if one's view of atheists came only from certain Christians.

Since Boutin does not explain which of these views he is setting himself against, nor cite any examples, he forces the reader to guess the exact target of his contempt. Whether it is the current, general view that Christian fiction is of poor quality, or the evangelical Christian caricature of atheists as dismissive of anything with the slightest odor of religion about it, the examples given show that his target is a straw man.

(How very typical of Boutin to assume that everyone already knows whom or what he is arguing against, without making it explicit. The only question is if this is a deliberate manipulation, or if his narcissism leads him to assume that everybody knows and thinks the same things he does.)

In any case, the use of a religious theme, or characters of devout faith, is neither a literary revolution, nor even particularly rare in modern letters.

Boutin's implicit purposes are at least two: to convince the person reading it to buy and read his book; and to prepare said reader to believe that Boutin himself is a genius.

How, one is forced to wonder, is he going to do that with this scolding tone:

"Some people don't like to be reminded of that."

You see, you either already accept his premises, or you are a low and nasty creature, ashamed of what you are and irritated at being reminded of it by your betters. Your better, in this case, being Norman Boutin, naturally. (Again: pause and consider the sheer Christian humility of this.)

Does this engender a feeling of wanting to buy his book, and his line that his book (and, by necessity, he himself) is a thing of genius?


A novel is supposed to illutrate [sic] reality.

This a vague and unsupported statement that is typical of Boutin. It is apparently supposed to make him sound authoritative, but which only causes most readers to react with questions like "According to whom?" and "Why?" and "Does that mean that science fiction and fantasy novels are not novels? Since when?"

It is the sort of statement that should be supported by a substantial philosophical treatise, or should not be made in the first place. Without a treatise of some sort, the most accurate statement one can make about the purpose of "the novel" is that it should engage and entertain the reader.

Of course, Bouin is setting himself up to hammer the reader with his virtue, not actually engaging in a thoughtful examination of the purpose of art.

There is no reality more important than our total dependence on God. There is not a single atome [sic] in the center of the largest star in the most distant galaxy that would remain in existence one nanosecord [sic] if God didn't keep it in existence. Similarly, we would collapse back into the nothingness from which we came if God didn't sustain us.

Boutin claims to believe this, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is, after all, only a slightly-mangled description of Aquinas's view of God and the universe, and thus more or less in accord with Boutin's professed Catholicism.

What it is not, however, is a good way to entice readers to read his book. The vast majority of people on the planet who do not agree with this view of reality — Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, deists, Presbyterians, Unitarians, and more — will view this as a harangue, and go looking elsewhere. People who do agree with it will probably also view it as a harangue, and entirely unhelpful in the project of saving others by persuading them of the truth of what Boutin inartfully states here.

If he wants to save more souls and bring more people to his view of reality, then this is exactly the wrong way to use his book to do it. It is akin to the man who shouts "I have people skills, you morons!"

Theresa is conscious of this and puts her trust in Him.

As ever, Boutin is incapable of showing, only of telling.


Point 9: Theresa’s faith is the source of her triumph. Take a large group of people. Impose the same difficult situation on them. Gradually increase the difficulty and watch what happens. One by one people will drop out of the challenge.

Three points in a row amount to "Norman Boutin is a Very Good Catholic and you Are Not."

There are good stories to be told about characters finding strength and solace in faith. But haranguing the prospective reader about faith faith faith faith faith is a pretty good sign that your story is not one of them. If Boutin had effectively dramatized faith being a source of triumph, then he would not need to constantly tell you about it, because it would be self-evident.

Theresa is challenged with difficulties she calls 'impossible', but she doesn't give up. To much is at stake to give her the luxury of walking away.

Easy to repeat, ad nauseam, difficult to dramatize. Boutin will forever tell you that he has dramatized something perfectly, but he will never allow you to simply judge for yourself if it is so.

What keeps her going? She trusts that God will get her through it somehow. Later in the story President Stinson expressed this idea: "I can't believe a God who brought her this far without making mistakes will let her make one now."

And, again, evidence that Empress Theresa is a narcissistic power fantasy. Theresa has never made a mistake, and God Himself will not permit her to make one now, verified by The President Himself, so it must be true. Boutin continues to fail to understand just how bad this makes him look to anyone who is not a sociopath.


Point 10: Is Empress Theresa a Christian novel? Some people say a Christian novel is full of scriptural quotes and discussion of Jesus Christ's activity in what is now Israel.

What, you might well ask, does this have to do with the novel setting a new standard for modern day writing? The world may never know.

Instead, Norman rehashes an old self-contradictory position he has long been fond of taking. After insisting that God is super-important to the book and all of existence, and declaring that her faith is what allows Theresa to triumph, he now is going to argue that his book is not, in fact, religious at all except in a miniscule number of direct references, and therefore it is almost purely secular.

His "some people say" construction is reminiscent of certain politicians, and since he doesn't indicate who says such a thing, or why, it allows him to paint a false picture of what the modern landscape actually is, to set himself up as the genius savior of everything. Again.


Empress Theresa is nothing like that. Prime Minister Blair makes four scriptural references, only one from the New Testament. Theresa makes none. Jesus is not mentioned. Theresa refers to the Father, Maker and God.

Remember, he faith is what allows her to triumph, her belief in God makes her invincible, but since she doesn't mention Jesus, well, it's not "really" a Christian book at all.

Empress Theresa is a Christian novel in the sense that Theresa is a believer and this gives her confidence, energy, and effectiveness, ( "Theresa can't be defeated." ) 

His repetition of that quote everywhere, "Theresa can't be defeated," becomes a bit tiresome, doesn't it?

You keep wanting to list true-believing Christians who were defeated, to point out that the very essence of the statement is in contradiction of Christian humility, and that it demonstrates, along with so many other details, that the book is Norman Boutin's narcissistic power fantasy, where the world must bend to his whims, because he is so very, very right about everything.

Some people will say Theresa's faith is unfounded and her false belief is what guides her. Others, like President Stinson in Point 9, will say the influence of Providence on Theresa is real and God directs her mind in the right direction.

Neither of these things has anything to do with the argument this point is supposed to be supporting.

The book could be very good if Theresa's faith were misplaced, but it still gave her inner peace and the strength to persevere. It could also be good if God literally influenced the course of events. (Again, the example of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany springs to mind.)

But the quality of the book does not depend on either of these cases, it depends on how well it is conceived of and written, and none of these points actually deal with that.

You decide. 😁

Oh look, Norman read an article or a book on marketing and "learned" that engaging the reader is a thing that is supposed to be good.

He just has no idea how to do it, is all. One wonders whose specific example he is copying?

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
more will be added to this page soon 😀

"Soon" being a relative term, as he seems to have let the page sit for several months without update.

11 ET lacks bigotry

Incorrect. Theresa holds characters in disdain for being social inferiors to her. Also, what has this to do with setting the literary world on fire and raising the bar for all modern writing?

12 Theresa has simple tastes

So what?

13 Theresa is humble

"I could destroy you, but I won't, because I am so much better than you" is such a lesson in proper humility.

14 Theresa only uses her power when necessary

Which is any time she feels like it, or any time somebody dares to oppose her.

15 As symbolized by the above list, Theresa shows genius in bringing together volumes of information from many sources although there is nothing in her background to prepare her

I confess, I don't understand this statement. Parts of it make sense on their own, even though they are wrong. But the whole thing doesn't actually make sense.

I mean, how does the preceeding list "symbolize" Theresa bringing together volumes of information? Also, when did the purpose of the list change from being about "the genius of Empress Theresa as a novel" to "the genius of the fictional character of Theresa"?

.In the history of the human intellect, untrained, inexperienced, and using only its birthright equipment of untried capacities, there is nothing which approaches this.

What is the referent of the final word, "this"? The fact that Theresa supposedly brought together volumes of information? Maybe?

Joan of Arc stands alone, and must continue to stand alone, by reason of the unfellowed fact that in the things wherein she was great she was so without shade or suggestion of help from preparatory teaching, practice, environment, or experience. There is no one to compare her with, none to measure her by.

The abrupt mention of Joan of Arc will appear, to people who have not followed Norman Boutin closely (and why would you?), to be a non sequitur.

The fact that Boutin makes no attempt to connect this sudden intrusion to his main thesis in a way that the lay reader can follow can be put down either to his lack of writing skill, or to his contempt for anybody who does not already agree with him and praise his genius. The swiftness with which he dismisses anyone who challenges him, even on matters as elementary as providing necessary context, or drawing out chains of reasoning so that anybody may study them, with condescending dismissal ("Aw, who needs you!") is just about legendary among Boutinologists.

However, it is not a non sequitur to Boutin. He has had a long-standing fixation on Joan of Arc, leading him to write a bizarre essay in 2002 "proving" that she did not die of being burned alive, which was somehow supposed to make it easier for people to think about her.[9]

It is easy to see his near-fetishization of Joan of Arc as an inspiration for his creation of Theresa. The broad strokes are there: a young girl called by God; a plethora of entrenched and powerful enemies in "the establishment"; a "genius" that allows her to overcome those enemies. The only fundamental difference is that Joan was burned at the stake (but it's okay, she only went to sleep, according to Boutin's essay) while Theresa froze the world for hundreds of years and was ultimately victorious over... something. Reality, mostly.

So Boutin's sudden, out-of-left-field paragraph of praise for Joan is, in fact, in his mind, just as applicable to Theresa.



  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20200109050716/http://empresstheresa.com/genius
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20200417012625/http://empresstheresa.com/genius
  3. Mind-rot, sourced from the comments in this Amazon review. Somehow, the comments are not archivable, so if it disappears, this screenshot will be the only evidence of the comment.
  4. The review was deleted from Amazon, but has since been reposted to Goodreads.
  5. Three immediate examples occur to this author: The Shack, the Left Behind series, and the thrillers of Frank Peretti.
  6. John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, 1989, is generally ranked as one of his best two or three novels, for example.
  7. Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto, 1969. Chapter 6, "What is Romanticism?"
  8. The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, The Possessed, The Idiot, and arguably Notes from Underground all exemplify this, in different ways.
  9. https://web.archive.org/web/20130914123835/http://empresstheresa.com/joan_of_arc
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