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Author: Brian Sudlow

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.

Theology, politics, and Newtonian public science

This book explores at length 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, the 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 that are considered to be emblematic of Catholic literature. Its breadth will make it a useful guide for students wishing to become familiar with a wide range of such writings in France and England during this period.

Brian Sudlow

, but rather articulating how exactly the worldview expressed in so many Catholic writings is in conflict and engagement with the deepest tendencies of secularisation, and at other times paradoxically borrows from it. The intention has not been to exclude other conceptualisations of Catholic writing in France and England 1880–1914. It has been rather to enrich analysis of such literature at a time in Europe when religiosity is far from declining in the way that some have expected or even hoped for. The task of these concluding reflections is simply to summarise where

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Brian Sudlow

thoroughly studied as part of a damages claim against the railway company. Retté’s private studies of these cases simply shadowed the work done at the remarkable Bureau de Consultations where purported miraculous cures were studied by doctors of all faiths and none. Its influence among even secular doctors was such, according to Ruth Harris, as to undermine the positivist ethos in some scientific circles. 14 Pilgrimage is hardly a noticeable trend in English Catholic writings with the glorious exception of Hilaire Belloc’s The Path to Rome and

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Brian Sudlow

Renan’s Vie de Jésus had done considerable damage to belief in Christ as God incarnate. 30 As we saw in Chapter 3 , the incarnation provided some Catholic writers with an aesthetic basis on which to reimagine or uncover the meaning and purpose of the cosmos. Within this aesthetic, however, there was a dogmatic and doctrinal dynamic through which Catholic religiosity sought to confront the assumptions of secular worldviews. The quasi-ubiquity of this dogma in French and English Catholic writings underlines its importance not only to

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Brian Sudlow

Catholic writings. On the other hand, this project, like their critique of individualism, often found itself on the terrain of the anti-Enlightenment tradition. Their hostility to the secular State led many Catholic writers into using the linguistic and cultural tools of nationalist ideology. Nationalism’s secular roots, however, ensured that such an association of politics and religion could not remain untroubled. Church, state and nation in French Catholic writings The relationship between

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Brian Sudlow

early twentieth centuries. In the first set of problems we must include the dilemmas of belief and unbelief by which ultimate purposes for action are embraced or rejected. Another issue following logically from this first is that if faith posits God as the ultimate purpose or destiny of human action, in what ways could Catholic literature imaginatively depict the problem of moral autonomy from God? Two additional issues exemplify the dilemmas just raised. First, the theme of homosexuality found in some Catholic writings highlights the

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Abstract only
Brian Sudlow

: ‘Dieu n’est pas un artiste, Monsieur Mauriac non plus.’ 11 Unless, therefore, the label of ‘Catholic literature’ is somehow enriched by other perspectives, the signs are that it will continue to class Catholic writings in ways which render them marginal or exotic. By proposing an analysis of French and English Catholic writings, 1880–1914, through the lens of secularisation, this book aims to begin challenging this critical ghettoisation, not by softening treatment of Catholic themes but by relating them to trends within secularism or

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Brian Sudlow

Reaction to the secularisation of the imagination and its naturalistic depiction of the material world are important aspects of the Catholic novel, as Malcolm Scott argued. 2 Still, rejection of the secular imagination can be found in many other forms of Catholic writings. Technological consciousness, that aspect of secularisation which reduces reality exclusively to the level of material causality, cannot sit easily within a mind which asserts the importance of the spiritual. Thus, in his novel La Maison Henry Bordeaux depicts the narrator

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
Brian Sudlow

Cavanaugh’s essay on societal secularisation provides us with a useful paradigm from which to begin analysing anti-secular alternatives. 1 Exploring this paradigm in all its theological resonances is unnecessary. The political and socio-economic dynamics which it outlines correlate with, and in other ways challenge, French and English Catholic writings about societal organisation. On the political level, Cavanaugh argues that ‘Eucharistic counter-politics’ have the capacity to undermine the secular State in two

in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914