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

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Catholicism in the English Protestant Imagination: Nationalism, Religion, and Literature, 1600-1745. By Raymond D. Tumbleson. (New York: Cambridge University Press. 1998. Pp. ix, 254. $54.95.)

This book, developed from a dissertation by an English professor at Kutztown University, examines anti-Catholic rhetoric during its heyday in England. Tumbleson had already published versions of substantial portions of this study in five essays or articles. Among his six chapters, Chapter 2, concerning Milton, Marvell, and Popery, and Chapter 4, called "The Science of Anglicanism," carry exactly or nearly exactly, the titles of earlier publications. On this account, literary scholars familiar with them likely would not have found his useful multidisciplinary approach (Harry Dickinson of Edinburgh was among the first to employ it in the 1970's) as innovative as I did. The reading was tough-going for me, mainly because of Tumbleson's elaborately constructed prose, but nevertheless, quite rewarding.

Tumbleson's theme is hardly unknown or unexpected. Every student of the period knows the degree to which English Protestants (Anglicans and Dissenters alike) wallowed in anti-Catholic sentiment and how that engine drove the nation toward mercantilism, heightened nationalism that was fed by a conviction that Catholicism was foreign and tyrannical (France, Italy and the Papacy), provided a justification for some reconfiguration of Anglicanism, helped to precipitate the Glorious Revolution, and led English Protestants to equate Protestantism with freedom from foreign domination and relief from autocratic, centralized government. What began essentially with the publication of the Elizabethan Foxes Book of Martyrs, which commanded attention for centuries and had two fundamental themes-the satanic evil of Rome and the sacredness of monarchy-was promoted by strenuous Calvinists under the early Stuarts and became a national obsession during the Restoration and Augustan ages. …


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