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91 John Henry Newman: His Life and Work. By Brian Martin. Leominster, Herefordshire, UK: Gracewing Publishing, 2012. Pages: 160. Softcover, £ 9.99. ISBN: 9780852448076. Gracewing’s publications on Blessed John Henry Newman not only include the Millennium Edition of his writings but also feature a growing selection of secondary sources about his life and thought. Among these excellent titles is this republication of Brian Martin’s John Henry Newman: His Life and Work.1 For three decades, Martin’s book has offered a brief and reliable introduction to Newman’s life and serves as a welcome ballast to several revisionist biographies of Newman that have rolled out in the last fifteen years.2 Martin, former Head of English at Magdalen College School and Lecturer in Modern English Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford, weaves a tight prose narrative, marked by an intricate rendering of Newman’s letters and diaries. Following the lines of Newman’s Apologia and supplemented by reminiscences from his brother Frank and others, Martin admirably describes Newman’s progression at Oxford, the cast of characters who shaped Newman as a young Anglican priest, as well as his entrance into the Oxford Movement. Martin then provides a smart transition to Newman’s conversion to the Roman Catholic Church and his continued struggles and transformations as an Oratorian Priest. Martin highlights several interesting themes not always attributed to Newman, such as his struggle about how to minister to the poor as an Oratorian (86). Perhaps because this book was designed as a short introduction, Martin did not delve into such works as Newman's Oxford University Sermons or An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent; however, the last chapter on “Literature and Religion” takes an extended look at Newman’s Idea of a University and his Apologia Pro Vita Sua. With this edition recast into the sea of recent biographies,one would have hoped for some updates to the text. Explanatory footnotes and references to the passages from Newman’s Letters and Diaries and other works would have been helpful. Further, a new preface or an appendix that critiqued advances and revisions in Newman scholarship should have been added. Although there is a new paragraph inserted in this edition that mentions Newman’s beatification (seemingly the only new text),this seems an artless add-on that really does not do justice to the preceding material (141). Whether Martin or an editor added it is unclear, but an appendix that detailed Newman’s status as Venerable (1991) and the controversy over and eventual triumph of his beatification (2010) should have been included. It must regrettably be noted that the publishing quality of the book does not equal the original: the paper stock is rough,the pictures and type set (which did not seem updated) appear blurry and uneven, and the cover lacks the subtle power of Sir John Everett Millais’ portrait of Newman, which was on the original jacket. Finally, the republication of Martin’s book raises a question about Newman biographies. Most biographies of Newman either accurately capture his life—like 1 Originally published by Chatto &Windus (London:1982) and re-issued by Continuum (NewYork,2000). 2 See,for example,my review of John Cornwell’s Newman’s Unquiet Grave:A Reluctant Saint, Newman Studies Journal, 8/1 (Spring 2011): 90–93. 3 Ian Ker, John Henry Newman:A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988). BOOK REVIEW NEWMAN STUDIES JOURNAL 92 4 Frank M.Turner,John Henry Newman:The Challenge to Evangelical Religion (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), reviewed by Edward Enright, Newman Studies Journal 1:1 (Spring 2004): 77–78. 5 Although authors, such as Sheridan Gilley (Newman and His Age, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1990) have attempted to contextualize Newman in his historical epoch, the method of presentation and assumptions fell short of adequately presenting Newman to the contemporary reader. Martin’s or Ian Ker’s3 —or—like Frank Turner’s4 —take the photo negative of him as a self-absorbed, deceitful actor traipsing across a Victorian stage. The former biographies tend to gloss over Newman’s rougher spots while the latter may show some angles hitherto unseen but ultimately offer a mendacious image...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2153-6945
Print ISSN
1547-9080
Pages
pp. 91-92
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-22
Open Access
No
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