Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome

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Cornell University Press, 1997 - Religion - 343 pages

From the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, an impressive group of English speaking intellectuals converted to Catholicism. Outspoken and gifted, they intended to show the fallacies of religious skeptics and place Catholicism, once again, at the center of western intellectual life. The lives of individual converts?such as John Henry Newman, G. K. Chesterton, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day?have been well documented, but Patrick Allitt has written the first account of converts' collective impact on Catholic intellectual life. His book is also the first to characterize the distinctive style of Catholicism they helped to create and the first to investigate the extensive contacts among Catholic convert writers in the United States and Britain.

Allitt explains how, despite the Church's dogmatic style and hierarchical structure, converts working in the areas of history, science, literature, and philosophy maintained that Catholicism was intellectually liberating. British and American converts followed each other's progress closely, visiting each other and sending work back and forth across the Atlantic.

The outcome of their labors was not what the converts had hoped. Although they influenced the Catholic Church for three or four generations, they were unable to restore it to the central place in Western intellectual life that it had enjoyed before the Reformation.


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CATHOLIC CONVERTS: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome

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A scholarly and stimulating history of the impact made by gifted thinkers who became Catholics on both sides of the Atlantic between 1825 and 1962, and of the problems they faced in their new Church ... Read full review

Catholic converts: British and American intellectuals turn to Rome

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The century and a quarter before Vatican Council II saw quite a few American and British intellectuals enter the Roman Catholic Church. Through their writings, these converts, among them John Henry ... Read full review


Intellectuals Becoming Catholics
New Pride and Old Prejudice
The First English Converts
Tractarians and Transcendentalists in America
Infallibility and Its Discontents
America Modernism and Hell
Women and Conversion
The British Apologists Spiritual Aeneid
Revival and Departure
Fascists Communists Catholics and Total War
The Convert Historians
Novels from Hadrian to Brideshead

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About the author (1997)

Patrick Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University. He is the author of Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985 and Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome.

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