Newman and His Contemporaries

By Ford, John T. | The Catholic Historical Review, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Newman and His Contemporaries


Ford, John T., The Catholic Historical Review


Late Modern European

Newman and His Contemporaries. By Edward Short. (New York: T &T Clark International, an imprint of Continuum. 201 1 . Pp. xi, 530. $1 10.00 clothbound, ISBN 978-0-567-02688-0; $32.95 paperback, ISBN 978-0-56702689-7.)

Among the mini-flood of publications unleashed by the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-90) by Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010, at Cofton Park, Birmingham, England, Edward Short's Newman and His Contemporaries stands out for several reasons. First of all is its sheer quantity: some 400 densely packed pages of narrative, augmented by another 100-plus pages of references and biographical information. Not only is this book a mega-volume; more important, it is a quality volume that is a pleasure to read- the author writes well, in spite of yielding occasionally to the temptation of literary Wanderlust. In addition, Short has both an in-depth knowledge of Newman's life and thought, as well as an enviable familiarity with the writings of many of Newman's contemporaries who, in some cases, have been treated only en passant by other Newman biographers. An additional enhancement to this volume is the center collection of black-and-white reproductions of people and places mentioned in the text.

The first four of this volume's thirteen chapters treat the well-known triumvirate of the Oxford Movement: John Keble (1 792- 1866), Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-82), and Richard Hurrell Froude (1803-36). Froude's premature death during the early years of the movement left much of its leadership in Newman's hands; Keble and Pusey were thinkers, not organizers. The posthumous publication of Froude's Remains (London, 1838) suggests that had he lived longer, he might well have entered the Roman Catholic Church before Newman did, thereby posing the perennially intriguing question why Newman became a Roman Catholic, while Keble and Pusey did not.

This volume's middle five chapters are a smorgasbord: Newman's view of public life, his "female faithful," his contacts with Americans such as Orestes Brownson (1803-76), as well as his relationship with William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98) and his admiration for William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63). …

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