Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The One Thomas More

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

The One Thomas More

Article excerpt

The One Thomas More BY TRAVIS CURTRIGHT CUA, 231 PAGES, $64.95

Pius XII went from being a "righteous Gentile" to an anti-Semite. The "man for all seasons," we've recently learned, is really a "hater." He had an admirable start, as an urbane, witty reformer, the author of humanist books and poetry, above all Utopia, but then began writing against and prosecuting heretics.

For the assassination of his character, Pius had Rolf Hochhuth and his play The Deputy to thank. Thomas More has Hilary Mantel and her award-winning novel Wolf Hall, in which she casts Thomas Cromwell as a serene reformer and More as an ill-tempered reactionary. Popular art often takes its cue from the scholarly class.

The revisionists argue that there are two Thomas Mores, "light" and "dark." Proponents of the two-More thesis include G. R. Elton, Alistair Fox, and John A. Guy, some of the greatest recent scholars of Tudor history and literature.

Fortunately, Travis Curtright, professor at Ave Maria University and research fellow at the Center for Thomas More Studies, has written an indispensable work for present and future scholars. In The One Thomas More, he argues persuasively against the calamitous misunderstanding that has taken hold and sets the record straight about the fundamental integrity of his subject. …

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