Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Belloc Redux?

The Atlantic's literary editor, Benjamin Schwartz, summarizes Cambridge historian Eamon Duffy's 1992 book, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580:

His meticulous and beguiling reconstruction, along with his exploration of the psychological and spiritual devastation caused by the Tudors’ wrecking of the physical culture of the late-medieval Church, demonstrated that the Reformation was “a great cultural hiatus, which had dug a ditch, deep and dividing, between the English people and their past”—a past that over merely three generations became a foreign country, impossible for the English to regard as their own. The book stirred the English popular and scholarly mind from a historical and cultural complacency bred of Protestant and Whiggish triumphal­ism.

Anybody else thinking Belloc's Europe and the Faith?

1 comment:

Liz said...

One of the things that has struck me recently, as I've been reading a lot of pre-Reformation English literature and history, is the fact that England was so steeped in Marian devotion before the Reformation, but so anti-Marian in recent centuries. Marian devotion was a stumbling block for John Henry Newman and was undoubtedly one of the things that kept C.S. Lewis out of the Church.

There is such an enormous divide and Duffy's book certainly documents it in detail. I haven't read Belloc's book, but the pictures alone in Duffy's book document the tragedy that occurred. As a convert one of the things I've had to really come to terms with is that a lot of the "history" I grew up with was very partisan in nature. Duffy's book went a long way to explaining the anti-Catholicism of my parents. grandparents, and in-laws. What happened in England was as stark as anything that happened in Soviet Russia.