All Good Books Are Catholic Books
Print Culture, Censorship, and Modernity in Twentieth-Century America
Publication Year: 2013
Until the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the stance of the Roman Catholic Church toward the social, cultural, economic, and political developments of the twentieth century was largely antagonistic. Naturally opposed to secularization, skeptical of capitalist markets indifferent to questions of justice, confused and appalled by new forms of high and low culture, and resistant to the social and economic freedom of women—in all of these ways the Catholic Church set itself up as a thoroughly anti-modern institution. Yet, in and through the period from World War I to Vatican II, the Church did engage with, react to, and even accommodate various aspects of modernity. In All Good Books Are Catholic Books, Una M. Cadegan shows how the Church’s official position on literary culture developed over this crucial period.
The Catholic Church in the United States maintained an Index of Prohibited Books and the National Legion of Decency (founded in 1933) lobbied Hollywood to edit or ban movies, pulp magazines, and comic books that were morally suspect. These regulations posed an obstacle for the self-understanding of Catholic American readers, writers, and scholars. But as Cadegan finds, Catholics developed a rationale by which they could both respect the laws of the Church as it sought to protect the integrity of doctrine and also engage the culture of artistic and commercial freedom in which they operated as Americans. Catholic literary figures including Flannery O’Connor and Thomas Merton are important to Cadegan’s argument, particularly as their careers and the reception of their work demonstrate shifts in the relationship between Catholicism and literary culture. Cadegan trains her attention on American critics, editors, and university professors and administrators who mediated the relationship among the Church, parishioners, and the culture at large.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Thanks fi rst, as is always most appropriate for historians, to the generous and knowledgeable archivists and librarians at so many places: especially Charlotte Ames, Kevin Cawley, and Wendy Clauson Schlereth at the Uni-versity of Notre Dame; and many others at Boston College, the Archdio-cese of Chicago, Georgetown University, the Midwest Jesuit Archives in ...
Introduction: The Cultural Work of Catholic Literature
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...novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the protagonist Stephen Dedalus announces to himself and to the ages his newly embraced mission: “Wel-come, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experi-ence and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”1 In its emphasis on the primacy and immediacy of individual con-...
1. U.S. Catholic Literary Aesthetics
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...in America entitled “Free Verse.” Pallen by this time had been prominent in Catholic literary culture for de cades. As editor of Church Progress and Catho-lic World of St. Louis, poet, literary scholar and critic, pop u lar lecturer on literary topics, and managing editor of the Catholic Encyclopedia, Pallen in his career linked literary and nonliterary work, institution building with ...
2. Modernisms Literary and Theological
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...in the 1920s was the 1907 Vatican condemnation of something termed “Modernism,” a set of theological positions the Vatican considered incom-patible with Catholic belief. Although this condemnation did not deal quite the death blow to Catholic intellectual life that historians long maintained, virtually no American Catholic intellectual of the interwar years would ...
3. Declining Oppositions
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Shuster’s The Catholic Spirit in Modern En glish Literature the word “modern-ism” does not occur, despite the work’s appearing in modernism’s annus mirabilis, 1922, the year of publication for both Ulysses and The Waste Land. The only time the word “modernist” appears is in an approving description of Hilaire Belloc’s attempt to “uncover the medieval walls upon which ...
4. The History and Function of Catholic Censorship, as Told to the Twentieth Century
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...literary culture in the years after the Great War than its interdependence with theology and philosophy in defi ning and evaluating literature. The resulting literary aesthetic drew multiple aspects of Catholic thought and experience into a powerful and fl exible imaginative framework that oper-ated in an extensive network of literary institutions. These institutions in ...
5. Censorship in the Land of “Thinking on One’s Own”
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...modernizing the mechanisms and legal framework of censorship, by the time the 1917 Code of Canon Law was promulgated, even to many contem-poraries censorship was an anachronism. Nevertheless, readers, writers, and other participants in the print culture of U.S. Catholicism were offi cially bound by it, and needed ways of navigating it within the cultural, intel-...
6. Art and Freedom in the Era of “The Church of Your Choice”
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...and institutional structures surrounding the regulation of publication and reading— refl ected for better and worse the worldview that grounded Cath-olic literary culture and aesthetics. Because salvation, and therefore doctri-nal truth and fi delity, were the highest goods, everything else achieved goodness to the extent that it was in harmony with them. Seen from within ...
7. Reclaiming the Modernists, Reclaiming the Modern
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...an article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Problems of the Catholic Writer.” Among these problems was the obligation that Catholics had to marry and raise a large family, depriving the writer of the solitude and silence neces-sary for writing, and requiring him to earn enough money to support them all, usually through means other than writing. Sylvester also lamented the ...
8. Peculiarly Possessed of the Modern Consciousness
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...critics had reconciled an apparently unbridgeable modernist rift between orthodoxy and iconoclasm is to draw on some very old associations. The earliest uses of the verb “to reconcile” in En glish, in the late fourteenth century, referred to the reconciliation of humanity to God in Christ. The theological etymology refl ects the weight of what Catholic critics believed ...
Epilogue: The Abrogation of the Index
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There may seem to be a great distance between the abstractions of modernist oppositions—iconoclasm and orthodoxy, individual and community, innovation and repetition, openness and closure—and the ecclesial bureaucracy of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. ...
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Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Cushwa Center Studies of Catholicism in Twentieth-Century America
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth