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

Preface and acknowledgements

In inspiration, this book goes back to a conversation I had in 1999 in a pub off Trafalgar Square with the biographer Joseph Pearce. Until that time I had not heard of J. K. Huysmans, or many of the other Catholic authors mentioned herein, and it took me nearly six or seven years after that to begin getting to grips with them. In terms of material, however, this book essentially grew out of the first part of my PhD in which I compared the writings of Adolphe Retté and G. K. Chesterton. If I had my time again – pace Retté – I would chose Péguy instead. In the event I was advised against it by one who has since gone to his grave. I trust Péguy has remonstrated with him. I never had the chance.

In the preparation of this book, I am grateful to Christopher Guyver, Mike Hennessy, Tom Pink, Michael Swift and Tom Woodman who read and commented on various sections. I am also grateful to my two anonymous readers and the staff of Manchester University Press. I have been blessed with the generous encouragement of colleagues at Reading University, especially Mary Bryden, Joël Félix, Andy Knapp and Françoise Le Saux. A word of thanks also goes to my mum for help with the bibliography and to my dad for technical help. I owe a personal debt to my brothers and their families for much support; to Mike, Kathryn, Maria and the boys for generous helpings of sustaining affection; and to my Lizzie (tutto per te, carissima!). I make a last valedictory nod of the head to our Chris who stoically put up with being deprived of the dining room table for much longer than either of us envisaged. And finally … Nec praemii ullius spe; Sed sicut tu amasti me. You know who you are.

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