Catholic Literary Revival

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

When Literature and Film Partner: Graham Greene’s The Third Man at 65

Perhaps few twentieth-century writers in English were as bankable in the long-run as Graham Greene. I am not speaking in the mass-market/pulp-paperback sense of the word, nor in the high-literary James Joyce/Ernest Hemingway/T.S. Eliot sense, either. But somewhere between these two, Graham Greene gouged a niche—make that a ravine—and filled it with an international-experience (and [...]

Social Respectability as Religion in Flannery O’Connor’s “Revelation”

In her short stories Flannery O’Connor presents many religious people who attend church and consider themselves moral and principled, but their religion does not inspire their daily life and govern their human relationships. While they strive to make favorable impressions and distinguish themselves by their manners and morals, their congeniality and propriety do not amount [...]

A Catholic Satirist at Work: Evelyn Waugh’s Helena

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), Catholic convert and novelist. I had never read anything by Waugh and thought it was time I gave him a go, especially since I love English Catholic literary figures. Problem is, Waugh specialized in fiction and I don't. So I decided to [...]

Three Paths to Rome

Once asked what book he’d like to be stuck with on a desert island, G.K. Chesterton reportedly responded in the way one would expect of him: Thomas' Guide to Practical Shipbuilding. He was being facetious, and his real answer was The Pickwick Papers. The question is a fun one to consider, but frankly, I’d beg [...]

Unmanly Men in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Stories

Many of O’Connor’s stories portray the ineptness of men to uphold traditional ideals of manhood. The men show no leadership, they do not protect or care for their family members, they lack all manner of chivalry, and they lose a sense of priority as they commit to careers and professions or social and political agendas [...]

Prescience in Morris West’s Vatican Trilogy

During my late teens and early twenties I underwent the customary intellectual awakening. On the advice of a very sophisticated classmate, I read Meiklejohn’s translation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and began to demand empirical evidence for the existence of everything, including God. Inevitably, this led me to a crisis of faith which left [...]

GKC’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill: How to Be a Catholic Lunatic

America stands in need of a new revolution to free itself from the tyranny of bureaucracy and the ensuing slavery of boredom. Such freedom is difficult to depict even in the land of the free, because the United States is losing its identity as the home of the brave. Cowardice, termed “tolerance,” is the marching [...]

A Defense of the Grotesque in Flannery O’Connor’s Art

Art is the pulse of the soul. It expresses much of what is kept hidden and even what could not be expressed in any other form. Many people talk of a crisis in modern art—its abstractness, banality, and, could we even say, ugliness. If there is such a crisis, to me, it is nothing other [...]

Why Do We Read Good Books?

Not long ago, one of my older essays was published in these pages to counterbalance, and to caution against, the unqualified praise of Flannery O’Connor’s fictional stories. As I expected, a great many O’Connor enthusiasts took exception to my critique. But amidst the ensuing disparagement, the common confusions, and the rebuttals of arguments never made, [...]

A Good Woman Is Hard to Figure

A few days ago a friend mentioned that this August marks the fiftieth anniversary of Flannery O’Connor’s death, so I poked around the Internet to see whether this milestone is stirring up any interest. It is, but what captivated me was finding a few sites promoting the cause for her canonization and others that were [...]

A Caution on the Writings of Flannery O’Connor

Several years ago, I received a volume of Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories as the very kind and thoughtful fulfillment of a birthday wish. At the time I knew very little about the content of these writings, but I was enthusiastic to encounter the genius of an author who had been highly praised to me on [...]

Flannery O’Connor—Fifty Years After

Her life bore such eloquence of pain that when she left it—August 3, 1964—her friend Thomas Merton could recall no other writer of the last century to compare her with. Rather, he said, she summoned the voice of Sophocles: an artist whose vision had likewise reached into the dark places of the human heart, there [...]

Benedict’s Enduring Legacy: His Love for Beauty

It won’t be easy to find a champion of faith and reason as simple and as profound as Pope Benedict XVI. In his many speeches and homilies, in his numerous books, he distilled rich currents of intellectual thought into beautifully crafted words that spoke to the heart as well as to the mind. He did [...]

New Study Marred by Old Clichés about Preconciliar Catholic Writers

In 1989, Gregory Wolfe uttered a cri du coeur bemoaning academic neglect of the modern “Catholic Intellectual Renaissance.” He lamented that the “current establishment” treated thinkers like G. K. Chesterton, Christopher Dawson, and Evelyn Waugh with “amused condescension” as representatives of “an order that has largely been left behind in our progress toward a more [...]

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