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The Lure of Babylon : Seven Protestant Novelists and Britain's Roman Catholic Revival [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.32" Width: 6.4" Height: 0.86"
Weight:   0.98 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2001
Publisher   Mercer University Press
ISBN  0865547203  
EAN  9780865547209  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book explores the effect of Catholicism on the imagination and the fiction of Protestant novelists in England during the decades surrounding Catholic Emancipation (1829) and the reestablishment of the Roman Catholic Church in England (1850). This book examines anti-Catholicism in popular and respected novelists such as Scott and Dickens, showing the secret attraction to Catholicism of staunch anti-Catholic Protestants.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
"Some of the most angry novels ever written" -- not quite  May 22, 2007
Michael E. Schiefelbein's THE LURE OF BABYLON: SEVEN PROTESTANT NOVELISTS AND BRITAIN'S ROMAN CATHOLIC REVIVAL reminds me of G. K. Chesterton's much slimmer TWELVE TYPES. Both books are mainly about writers -- for GKC's book also includes Charles II and Francis of Assisi, not remembered PRIMARILY for their scribblings. ***

Schiefelbein writes of seven British Protestant writers and eight of their books, including Sir Walter Scott's linked THE MONASTERY and THE ABBOT. Chesterton sketches twelve figures of different religions and from different countries. ***

Schiefelbein tells of seven Protestants who disliked Roman Catholicism but managed to find some nuggets of good as well. Chesterton casts a Roman Catholic eye on the lives of twelve persons who shaped their time. Only Charlotte Bronte and Sir Walter Scott are treated by both authors, and very well treated, let me add. ***

I read both Chesterton and Schiefelbein primarily for what they had to say about Sir Walter Scott. Professor, now Reverend, Schiefelbein's most striking insight into Scott's two novels about the coming of the Reformation to Scotland relates to what it was that Sir Walter found to like about superstitious Catholics and disliked about rational, dour Calvinists. "Scott discovers in Catholicism's appreciation for revelry, irreverence, and humor a remedy for the dry Calvinism of his childhood" -- Conclusion. ***

Scott's technique was to condemn Catholic "superstitions" in narrator's comments while sympathetically exploring the deeds and motives of his fictional Catholic characters "with all their mummery and irreverent fun and games ... through the wonderful disguises, secrecy and revelry of Catholic characters, antics that he ostensibly condemned. THE MONASTERY and THE ABBOT allowed Scott to imagine a religion that includes pleasure, without offending his Protestant audience and without betraying his own Protestant conscience" -- Ch. 1 "Unguarded Gaiety": Catholicism in Walter Scott's THE MONASTERY and THE ABBOT. ***

THE LURE OF BABYLON also presents strikingly good insights into the life and selected works of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Charles Dickens -- Little Nell's forebodings of death --, Mrs Frances Trollope -- novelist Anthony's mother, also tackled by Mark Twain in LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI--, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Kingsley -- WESTWARD HO! -- and George Eliot's ROMOLA, novel of Florence's Savanarola. ***

What is common, obvious and intended among the Schiefelbein Seven is their official, public disdain for Catholicism at a time when that older form of Christianity was making a comeback in England. More subtle is how, as artists, the seven also found things to like about Catholics, if not about Catholicism. This conditional objectivity was no small artistic achievement at a time when 19th Century British Anti-Catholicism produced, in the words of Margaret Maison, "some of the most angry novels ever written" -- Introduction. ***

A very good, easy, rewarding read. -OOO-

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