This book is a comparative study of the French and English Catholic literary revivals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These parallel but mostly independent movements include writers such as Charles Péguy, Paul Claudel, J. K. Huysmans, Gerard Manley Hopkins, G. K. Chesterton and Lionel Johnson. Rejecting critical approaches that tend to treat Catholic writings as exotic marginalia, this book makes extensive use of secularisation theory to confront these Catholic writings with the preoccupations of secularism and modernity. It compares individual and societal secularisation in France and England and examines how French and English Catholic writers understood and contested secular mores, ideologies and praxis, in the individual, societal and religious domains. The book also addresses the extent to which some Catholic writers succumbed to the seduction of secular instincts, even paradoxically in themes which are considered to be emblematic of the Catholic literature.
Charting the path from the ‘silent country’ to the séance
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Matthews, Samantha (2004
, resulting in the same blur, which only the
vigour of the colours fixes’ (Eliot 1920a ,
That suggestive blurring is an example of what Pound
might have identified as ‘crepuscular’ or, in his essay
‘LionelJohnson’, as late Victorian ‘muzziness’:
‘The “nineties” have chiefly gone out because of their
muzziness, because of a softness derived, I think, not from books but
Religion, Jacobitism, and the politics of representation in Lady Gregory’s The White Cockade
League of Great Britain and Ireland with a clearer
defined political aim of the Stuart restoration.84 Gregory’s mixed phrase,
including both ‘League’ and ‘White Rose’, could be a reference to either
one of these organisations. Yet it clearly indicates her awareness of more
politically inclined Jacobite ideologies prevalent at the time.
Some of the key literary figures of the 1890s had Jacobite sympathies,
including McGregor Mathers and LionelJohnson. It is in regard to the latter two, and the circle of the Rhymers Club, that Yeats was also acquainted
morbidity, ennui and spiritual malaise. In this novel, the British found a
happy medium between naturalism and aestheticism. However, due to a
cautious publishing industry, writers such as George Moore (1852–
1933), Havelock Ellis (1859–1939), Arthur Symonds (1865–1945) and
LionelJohnson (1867–1902) introduced decadence to the British public
in the late 1880s in critical essays. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian
Gray (1890) was the first British attempt to garner mass public attention,
as well as a harsh critical rebuke.
Kirsten MacLeod writes, ‘Decadence
. Retté’s sense of transgression implies not a self-hating guilt but the discovery that the purpose of his liberty is to fulfil a divinely defined destiny.
Such views find their parallel among the English Catholic writers who, like Retté, have decadent associations. The closest of these to Retté is perhaps the poet LionelJohnson, whose attitude to sin and repentance is captured by his poem ‘Ash Wednesday’: ‘Here is the healing place / And here the place of peace / Sorrow is sweet with grace / Here, and here sin hath cease.’ 13 Retté
writers. Thus, soundings from works by Paul Verlaine and Francis Jammes, as well as from those by Francis Thompson and Alice Meynell, will be analysed. English Catholic poetry, moreover, presents us with an intriguing strand of decadence in the works of Edward Dowson, John Gray and LionelJohnson.
Controversialists find their place here too. In France, we should mention Agathon (Henri Massis and Alfred de Tarde), Maurice Barrès, Edouard Drumont and Charles Maurras. Maurras and Barrès are of course much more than controversialists, but, as