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Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief [Hardcover]

By Joseph Pearce (Author)
Our Price $ 23.76  
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Item Number 96539  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   452
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.25" Width: 6.28" Height: 1.33"
Weight:   1.96 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2000
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898707900  
EAN  9780898707908  
UPC  008987079002  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Literary Converts is a biographical exploration into the spiritual lives of some of the greatest writers in the English language: Oscar Wilde, Evelyn Waugh, C.S. Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, Graham Greene, Edith Sitwell, Siegfried Sassoon, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers, T.S. Eliot and J.R.R. Tolkien. The role of George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells in intensifying the religious debate despite not being converts themselves is also considered. Many will be intrigued to know more about what inspired their literary heroes; others will find the association of such names with Christian belief surprising or even controversial. Whatever viewpoint we may have, Literary Converts touches on some of the most important questions of the twentieth century, making it a fascinating read.

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More About Joseph Pearce

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joseph Pearce is Writer in Residence and Visiting Fellow at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH. He is a renowned biographer whose books include Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor (Saint Benedict Press, 2012); Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays (Ignatius Press, 2010); and Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life (HarperCollins, 1998). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Higher Education from Thomas More College for the Liberal Arts and the Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is co-editor of the St. Austin Review, editor-in-Chief of Ignatius Press Critical Editions, and editor-in-Chief of Sapientia Press.

Joseph Pearce has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Ignatius Critical Edition
  2. Ignatius Critical Editions

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Brilliant survey of 20th century English Catholic writers  Nov 11, 2004
Starting with Oscar Wilde (of all people) and ending more or less with the rather sad deaths of Evelyn Waugh, Hugh Ross Williamson, and Alec Guiness, Joseph Pearce has created an enjoyable, readable, and enormously fun history of English converts and near-converts to Catholicism. It's hard to even recall how many names wander about this book. There are so many of them - Chesterton & Belloc, of course, but also Waugh, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Ronald Knox, Roy Campbell, Graham Greene, Dorothy Parker and many others wander in and out of the narrative. His writing style is very rapid - some chapters are only a few pages long, and the book is a very quick read. More an introduction than in-depth biographies, the author aims at breath rather then depth. As he has written many other biographies on the same subjects and includes many footnoted sources, if you want more info you can easily find it. One complaint is a total lack of goodies aside from the footnotes mentioned above -no forward or intro, no conclusion, no photos, and, what really would have been helpful, no list of works these authors wrote.

The star of the book, if he can be called such, is Chesterton. Through his personality, writing, and wit, he seems to have drawn more converts to the Catholic Church than all of the others combined. Ironically enough, Chesterton did not convert until 1922, only 14 years before his death and long after many were persuaded to join through his writings. His writings pop up over and over, long after his death, and I suspect he will continue to draw in converts far into the future - the author himself converted because of reading Chesterton.
Compelling Stories of Faith  Oct 18, 2004
Throughout the twentieth century, many of England's key literary figures converted to Catholicism and the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. This book neatly traces their spiritual journeys, and how they profoundly influenced each other along the way. Pearce devotes attention to such giants as Hilaire Belloc (a rare literary cradle Catholic), Chesterton, Ronald Knox, T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Edith Sitwell, C. S. Lewis and Alec Guinness, and also covers many of the lesser known and under appreciated poets, writers, and actors of the time. For some, the decision to convert took a few years, for others nearly a lifetime. Some came from positions of hardened atheism or agnosticism, others were disaffected or perfunctory Protestants. Some came to the Church as a result of suffering or loss, others from a cool and intellectual study of theology and history. Pearce quotes heavily in his book-perhaps too heavily-but there are several quotations from these brilliant people that made me think "Aha!" or "That's what I've been trying to say!" In particular, I was amazed to see the far-reaching influence of Belloc and Chesterton, two really magnificent thinkers who are hardly known today. All in all, I felt completely immersed in the thought and feeling of the time, so greatly influenced by fanatical political systems, gross inequality of wealth, two world wars and atomic bombs. The converts were reacting to a fatalistic determinism and materialism that seemed to be stealing the soul of humanity, as expressed in such poems as Eliot's "The Waste Land" and "The Hollow Men". For many people of the time, there seemed to be a choice between communism and fascism, or between communism and capitalism. As Belloc and Chesterton saw early on, such things were false dichotomies. The way of Faith, the return to a culture built on Christian foundations, is another choice, and the only one that can work to the benefit of all men.
Pearce is at his best here . . .  Feb 7, 2003
Joseph Pearce has built a strong reputation by writing wonderful biographies of Catholic literary greats. His volumes on Chesterton and Belloc are particularly noteworthy. But in "Literary Converts" we are treated to an excellent survey of the large number of English literary greats who either converted from the Anglican Church to Catholicism, became Catholics after having no faith at all, or otherwise embraced Christianity in the first half of the twentieth century. Evelyn Waugh, G.K. Chesterton, Robert Hugh Benson, T.S. Eliot, Hillaire Belloc and many other colorful characters appear throughout the book.

Perhaps the best way to read Pearce is to begin with Literary Converts and then read his biographies on single subjects like Belloc, Chesterton, and Tolkien for more detail. Once you read one, I think you'll come back for more.

Fascinating portrait of the British literary giants  Oct 8, 2002
I picked it up over the weekend and was fascinated by Pierce's portrait of the 20th century Christian literary world. I could be very wrong, but I have trouble imagining any of the contemporary Christian writers interacting much with each other. But early in the 20th century, it seems things were much different. I never guessed that writers as diverse as Lewis, Sayers, Tolkien, Williams, Waugh, Chesterton, Greene, and Eliot would interact so much with each other. Just reading the correspondence between these literary giants is a joy.
Great book!  Aug 19, 2001
Intellectual and inspirational too. Packed with info on great authors I was unfamiliar with, like Fr. Knox. Now I want to get one of his books!

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