Further Critical Evaluation of the Work
Evelyn Waugh was awarded the Hawthornden Prize for EDMUND CAMPION as a work of marked distinction by an author under forty. Some critics have found Waugh’s descriptions of Campion’s last Mass and sermon at Lyford, his subsequent hiding with two other priests, and their final discovery and arrest among the most descriptive and dramatic passages in all his writings. Others have pointed out that the story is related with bias, and without any attempt to create a true historical atmosphere. In any case, the short novel is told simply and does relate the tragedy of a martyr in the service of Catholicism.
It is interesting to note that the novel was written shortly after Waugh’s own conversion to Catholicism and reflects his search for inner peace and joy which he ultimately found in the martyred Englishman. Waugh reveals in Campion’s life what the Catholic faith meant to him personally, and his book is full of reverence and complete affirmation of the Church. He held a nostalgia for the past and his romantic sense of history comes out in this novel. At the time Waugh undertook to write the novel, the Jesuits were rebuilding Campion Hall on a new site at Oxford. Waugh pledged all the royalties he received from the book to the building fund for Campion Hall.
Reviewers of the book, including most of those who were unsympathetic to the general thesis it contained, praised its style and overlooked some of the inaccurate historical...
(The entire section is 391 words.)
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