2003 Conference – Going Deep in HistoryDeep in History

The Thread that Binds Literary Converts – Joseph Pearce

August 12, 2014 No Comments

In this talk Joseph Pearce offers insight into the roots and context of the Catholic Literary Revival of the 19th and 20th centuries. He then surveys some of this period’s notable and remarkably numerous converts to the Catholic Church.

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Read Joseph’s own conversion story in From Atheism to Catholicism: Nine Converts Explain Their Journey Home.

Study Questions:

-Does the reality of martyrs who died for the Catholic faith have an impact on your personal faith life? If so, how?

-What is the Catholic Literary Revival? What was it in response to?

-What difference does Pearce make between the “Light Romantics” and the “Dark Romantics?”

-Consider the quotation “There are only two things left for Charles Baudelaire: the foot of the Cross or the end of a revolver.”

-How does this characterize the “Dark Romantic” authors the authors Pearce describe?

-Why does Pearce say that the Devil is a Catholic?

-What is “Whig History” as referred to by Pearce?


Penal Times (England): A time in England when Catholicism was a proscribed religion in England and severe penal laws were in force against its adherents. Eighty-five martyrs came out of this era between 1530s and 1680s.

The Enlightenment (“Idolatry of the head”): A philosophic movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas and an emphasis on rationalism.

Romanticism (“Idolatry of the heart”): A literary, artistic, and philosophical movement originating in the 18th century, chiefly as a reaction against the Enlightenment which is characterized by an emphasis on the imagination and emotions, a predilection for melancholy, and poetry.

Neo-medievalism: A part of the Catholic Revival beginning in the 1830s which is characterized by the desire for literature to return to its believed height in the 1530s, prior to the Reformation.