Catholicism in the English Protestant Imagination: Nationalism Religion, and Literature 1600-1745

Article excerpt

RAYMOND D. TUMBLESON. Catholicism in the English Protestant Imagination: Nationalism Religion, and Literature 1600-1745. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Pp. ix + 254, introduction, notes, index. $54.95.

The period from the Stuart accession to the throne in 1603 to the last Jacobite challenge in 1745 by Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was an era during which England was transformed into a modern state and society. With the English Civil War, Restoration, Glorious Revolution and the continuing wars against France, it was a turbulent and violent period. Yet, during this same period, England experienced the growth of civil society and sustained a continuing cultural development that reflected the progression from the early Stuart to the Augustan age of the Hanoverians. The legacy of the Reformation and the virulent anti-Catholicism of the late Elizabethan era was still manifested in the image in which Catholicism was held in the English mind. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the English Catholic community (also known as the "recusants") experienced some periods of overt oppression; however, for the most part, they could practice their religion quietly, but not in public. After 1688, Catholic bishops were active in England. Raymond Tumbleson's Catholicism in the English Protestant Imagination: Nationalism, Religion, and Literature 1600-1745 is not about the English recusants, but rather it is a careful study of the formative impact of the idea of "Catholicism" on the English mentalité and its subsequent reflection on the national character.

Tumbleston, who teaches English at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, has revised his doctoral dissertation and developed a lucid and meaningful text that should be of interest to scholars interested in English literature and history. …