Christendom's Schwartz Writes New Book on English Catholic Convert Writers

May 12, 2005

Christendom College History Professor, Dr. Adam Schwartz, recently wrote The Third Spring: G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson, and David Jones which was published by The Catholic University of America Press.

For most of modern history, Roman Catholics in Britain were a "rejected minority," facing hostility and estrangement from a culture increasingly at odds with traditional Christianity. Yet British Catholicism underwent a remarkable intellectual and literary renewal, especially in the twentieth century, drawing a disproportionate number of the age's leading minds into its ranks. The Third Spring unravels this paradox of a renascent Catholic culture within a post-Christian society. It does so through detailed profiles of the spiritual journeys and religious and cultural beliefs of four seminal members of that twentieth-century revival: G. K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson, and David Jones.

Although these four authors came from different backgrounds and wrote primarily in different genres, each converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult and made his new faith the foundation of his intellectual and artistic work. All of them judged the Church to be the last corporate voice of orthodox Christianity in a hitherto unmatched irreligious climate of opinion; and they concluded that the Roman Catholic vision of human nature, thought, history, and art was truer and richer than proposed by prevailing secularism. They thus built on the nineteenth-century "Second Spring" of British Catholicism proclaimed by John Henry Newman to create a fresh assertion of Roman Catholicism, one suited to an era of unprecedented unbelief: a Third Spring.

This book is the first detailed examination of these four authors as part of a Roman Catholic, counter-modern community of discourse. It is informed by extensive research in the writers' works, scholarship on them, and their personal papers. This study is also distinguished by its careful attention to the authors' cultural and religious contexts, and to the psychology and theology of conversion. It will therefore deepen understanding, and correct some misconceptions, of each man's spiritual development and his thought, while revealing the twentieth-century Catholic literary revival to be a distinct movement in both British and Roman Catholic thought.

According to Joseph Pearce, author of Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief, "there are few modern scholars more qualified to write about the Catholic Literary Revival than Schwartz. In this study of four of the giants of that Revival we see how these diverse writers could find essential unity in the magisterial and majestic truths of the Catholic Church."

Patrick Allitt of Emory University and author of Catholic Converts believes "the scholarship on English-language intellectuals who converted to Catholicism is greatly enriched by this book. Schwartz is marvelously attentive to the social and religious tensions of the Britain in which Chesterton, Greene, Dawson, and Jones converted; to the divisions in the Catholic Church they joined; and to the nuances of their thought and language."


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