The Catholic Literary Revival


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By Calvert Alexander, S.J.

Christopher Dawson once diagnosed the modern decline in faith as due “not so much to a change of belief as to a change of attention—a turning away of the mind from spiritual to temporal things.” In this sweeping treatment of Catholic literary history, Calvert Alexander, S.J., traces the development of Catholic literature and enumerates its effects in returning the mind to the spiritual order. Focusing on the output of English-speaking countries, but also including other, continental contributions, Alexander attributes three stages to the revival of Catholic literature: the Victorian phase (1845 to 1890); the middle phase (the 1890s to World War I); and the contemporary phase (World War I to 1935).

Covering such richly variegated artistic movements as the American fin de siècle and the Celtic Dawn, Alexander gives pride of place to legends like Newman and Hopkins, Chesterton and Belloc, Wilde and Mauriac, but also identifies the hitherto auxiliary contributions of authors like Katherine Tynan, Alice Meynell, and Alfred Noyes. It is to this twofold approach, along with its expansive bibliographies, that The Catholic Literary Revival owes its enduring value as an essential piece in the work of recovering, maintaining, and developing the Catholic tradition.

Calvert Alexander, S.J., (1901–1977) was an American Jesuit priest. He led a distinguished career as editor of the magazine Jesuit Missions, from 1938 to 1963, and concluded his life with preaching and offering retreats. For his only authored work, The Catholic Literary Revival, he garnered significant accolades and appreciation from many leading literary figures and critics of his time.

Paperback: 368pp.

ISBN: 978-1952826627