Catholic Modernists, English Nationalists

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1st Edition

240 x 160 mm. 240pp ... [In stock in Australia, for immediate delivery]

Catholic Modernists, English Nationalists examines how the Catholic conversions of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ford Madox Ford, T. S. Eliot (an Anglo-Catholic), Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene influenced and were influenced by literary modernism in England.

These English modernists owe their Catholic conversions to a desire for a comprehensive spiritual answer to the social and psychological challenges of modernity. Because an impulse toward transcendent ideologies and a persistent nostalgia were central components of conservative strains of literary modernism in England, these converts were led toward Catholicism in part because of their practice of modernist aesthetics and its correlative ideological positions.

Therefore, this book offers a nuanced trajectory of the modernist movement by suggesting that conservative strains of modernism developed directly because of the early modernists' emphasis on reviving certain fragments of literary tradition and due to the inherent nostalgia in much of their work.

The argument challenges the widely held belief that 20th-century English Catholic movements extended from Cardinal Newman's evangelical work in the 19th century. The Introduction traces the religious genealogy of the Catholic modernists to the recusant Catholic tradition - upheld by a small bastion of Catholics in England who quietly preserved their faith while maintaining a stalwart nationalism. It also distinguishes these conservative modernists from the literary avant-garde and the non-religious conservatives who turned toward fascism and highlights the key reasons this strain of modernism and Catholic ideology were compatible. This compatibility in part explains why these converts worked more or less independently of each other and did not function as part of a cohesive Catholic revival.

The following chapters examine how conversion influenced the work and political views of each artist. Hopkins' poetry and Waugh's best novels depict their vision of England returning to its Catholic roots. Ford's and Eliot's art and political tracts abandon hope of England's reconversion to Catholicism, which partly explains why Eliot refused to fully convert and Ford considered himself a German Catholic and thought Anglicans should remain with Canterbury. Ford and Eliot still lament the plight of the Catholic tradition in the modern world.

The final chapter examines the latter half of Greene's career and discusses the development of a postmodern Catholic voice, which posits that Catholicism can still function as a relevant political and social force in the postmodern world.

This book not only accounts for the Catholic conversions of a handful of English modernists; it aims to provide one important and overlooked reason for the reactionary political and spiritual positions adopted by literary modernists.

Timothy J. Suttons currently teaches at Auburn University in Alabama.
^ Religion ^


SKU 9780874130775
Barcode # 9780874130775
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Timothy J. SUTTON

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