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.
. 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