John Henry Newman Criticism - Essay

George N. Shuster (essay date 1959)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Introduction,” in The Idea of a University, by John Henry Cardinal Newman, Image Books, 1959, pp. 21-43.

[In the following introduction to The Idea of a University, Shuster explores Newman's thoughts on the intersection of religion and liberal education, and highlights the continuing importance of Newman's text.]

On the twelfth of November, 1851, John Henry Newman, then a priest of the Birmingham Oratory, became Rector of the newly created Catholic University of Ireland. Seven years later, to the very day, he resigned from the post. The story of what he accomplished during his tenure of office hardly constitutes a notable page in the history of...

(The entire section is 8297 words.)

David Goslee (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Rhetoric as Confession in Newman's Parochial Sermons,” in Modern Language Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 4, December, 1987, pp. 339-63.

[In the following essay, Goslee focuses on Newman's quest for a visionary apprehension of God's will.]

Perhaps because of its affinity with twentieth-century thought, Newman's dark view of the human condition has come to seem increasingly evident: “Starting then with the being of a God, … I look out of myself into the world of men, and there I see a sight which fills me with unspeakable distress.”1 Harold L. Weatherby uses this very passage to compare Newman's “modern” epistemology with that of Aquinas and...

(The entire section is 10500 words.)

José Morales (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Newman and the Problems of Justification,” in Newman Today: Papers Presented at a Conference on John Henry Cardinal Newman, edited by Stanley L. Jaki, Ignatius Press, 1989, pp. 143-64.

[In the following essay, Morales evaluates the arguments of Newman's Lectures on the Doctrine of Justification, and concludes by summarizing the basic tenets of Newman's thought on this subject.]

The doctrine on the Justification of sinners by God is one of the central aspects of the Christian Faith. It occupies a place of singular importance within the history of the religious opinions held by Newman, it has been one of the salient points at the center of disputes...

(The entire section is 6967 words.)

Stanley L. Jaki (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Newman's Assent to Reality, Natural and Supernatural,” in Newman Today: Papers Presented at a Conference on John Henry Cardinal Newman, Ignatius Press, 1989, pp. 189-220.

[In the following essay, Jaki analyzes the philosophical and logical merits of Newman's An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.]

On Tuesday, March 15, 1870, Newman's Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent was published and sold out on that same day.1 A week later, to Newman's great surprise, there followed a second edition.2 Still another ten days later a long review of it was carried in the Spectator throughout the intellectual and literary world. The...

(The entire section is 11515 words.)

Alan G. Hill (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Originality and Realism in Newman's Novels,” in Newman after a Hundred Years, Clarendon Press, 1990, pp. 21-42.

[In the following essay, Hill comments on the artistic aims and successes of Newman's Loss and Gain and Callista.]

‘Newman a novelist?’ One can imagine the chorus of disbelief that at one time would have greeted such a claim. Literary critics find it hard to accept that one whose priorities were ordered so differently from their own could treat the genre seriously, while churchmen have naturally sought his larger achievement elsewhere. In the cultural divide which Newman himself predicted in The Idea of a...

(The entire section is 8070 words.)

Ian Ker (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Writer,” in The Achievement of John Henry Newman, University of Notre Dame Press, 1990, pp. 152-83.

[In the following essay, Ker surveys Newman's satirical writings and his skills as a rhetorician.]

Apart from a verse romance which he and a friend published as undergraduates, Newman's first publication was an article he contributed to an encyclopedia in 1824. It was a lengthy essay on Cicero, whom he called “the greatest master of composition that the world has seen.”1 Years later he was to acknowledge Cicero's important influence on his own writing: “As to patterns for imitation, the only master of style I have ever had (which is...

(The entire section is 11476 words.)

Robert Pattison (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Last Things: The Greatness of Newman,” in The Great Dissent: John Henry Newman and the Liberal Heresy, Oxford University Press, 1991, pp. 188-217.

[In the following essay, Pattison contrasts Newman's thought on the subjects of truth and belief with that of his fellow Victorians, and explores the thinker's attack on liberalism.]

Is Newman still a great Victorian? His claim to be anything more than a religious curiosity must rest on his theory of belief and his dissent from liberalism. One is an abstruse series of philosophical speculations, the other a detailed indictment of the modern spirit. Do either of these arguments deserve our attention? Is either...

(The entire section is 12098 words.)

Oliver S. Buckton (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “‘An Unnatural State’: Gender, ‘Perversion,’ and Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua,” in Victorian Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4, Summer, 1992, pp. 359-83.

[In the following essay, Buckton claims that the controversy between Newman and Charles Kingsley of the 1860s was a manifestation of Victorian hostility to Newman's religious conversion and perceived sexual ambiguity.]

Long before he actually wrote the autobiography that resulted in the transformation of his reputation in his own country, Newman had considered the possibility of writing a narrative of self-justification in order to clarify the motives for his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845....

(The entire section is 12038 words.)

Ed Block, Jr. (essay date 1992)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Venture and Response: The Dialogical Strategy of John Henry Newman's Loss and Gain,” in Critical Essays on John Henry Newman, edited by Ed Block, Jr., 1992, pp. 23-38.

[In the following essay, Block argues that Loss and Gain should be viewed as fiction—rather than as a satirical or autobiographical work—and describes the novel's dialogical structure.]

Critics generally see Loss and Gain, John Henry Newman's first novel, published in 1847, as either a satiric, Catholic polemic or a somewhat unfeeling portrayal of his reasons for converting from Anglicanism to Catholicism two years earlier.1 Other than Kathleen Tillotson's...

(The entire section is 6698 words.)

John R. Griffin (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Difficulties Felt by Anglicans, I,” in A Historical Commentary on the Major Catholic Works of Cardinal Newman, edited by Peter Lang, 1993, pp. 35-47.

[In the following essay, Griffin concentrates on Newman's satirical lectures on the Oxford Movement in Difficulties Felt by Anglicans.]

You do me an injustice, if you think, as I half-gathered from a sentence in it, that I speak contemptuously of those who now stand where I have stood myself. But persons like yourselves should recollect the reason why I left the Anglican Church was that I thought salvation was not to be found in it. The feeling could not stop there. If it led me to...

(The entire section is 5388 words.)

Ian Ker (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Personal God,” in Healing the Wound of Humanity: The Spirituality of John Henry Newman, Darton, Longman and Todd, 1993, pp. 10-22.

[In the following essay, Ker probes Newman's philosophical and literary approach to the existence of God.]

In a recent study of the arguments from human experience for the existence of God, Newman has been criticized by Aidan Nichols, OP ‘for concentrating his energies so exclusively on one aspect of our experience, our awareness of moral obligation’, for ‘a unilateral concentration on moral experience’, that is, ‘our experience of conscience’.1

Presumably there could be no objection to...

(The entire section is 4427 words.)

Ian Ker (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Fullness of Christianity,” in Newman and the Fullness of Christianity, T&T Clark, 1993, pp. 123-45.

[In the following excerpt, Ker considers Newman's contribution to Catholic theology and the applicability of his theories to a critique of the modern Catholic Church.]

By 1843 Newman saw that not only was the principle of doctrinal development a persuasive hypothesis to account for the facts of Christian history, but also ‘a remarkable philosophical phenomenon, giving a character to the whole course of Christian thought’, particularly of course to Catholic thought, lending it ‘a unity and individuality’ such that ‘modern Rome was in truth...

(The entire section is 8328 words.)

Emmanuel Sullivan (essay date 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Development of Doctrine,” in Things Old and New: An Ecumenical Reflection on the Theology of John Henry Newman, St Pauls, 1993, pp. 33-52.

[In the following essay, Sullivan discusses Newman's philosophical presuppositions and summarizes the major aims of his theological method as defined in his Essay on the Development of Doctrine.]

Newman was neither naive nor unduly optimistic in articulating his philosophical theology of development. He was aware of the constant need for renewal in Church life. He speaks of ‘real perversions and corruptions … often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent...

(The entire section is 5953 words.)

William J. Wainwright (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “John Henry Newman and the Grammar of Assent,” in Reason and the Heart: A Prolegomenon to a Critique of Passional Reason, Cornell University Press, 1995, pp. 55-83.

[In the following essay, Wainwright observes Newman's process of informal reasoning—his “illative sense”—as it is demonstrated in An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.]

Consider these chains of reasoning. (1) Our conviction that Great Britain is an island is well-founded. We have no doubt that it is true. But if asked to give our evidence for it, we can only respond that “first, we have been so taught in our childhood, and it is so on all the maps; next, we have never heard it...

(The entire section is 11070 words.)

Sheridan Gilley (essay date 1997)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Newman and the Convert Mind,” in Newman and Conversion, edited by Ian Ker, T&T Clark, 1997, pp. 5-20.

[In the following essay, Gilley describes Newman as a figure representative of conversion to Roman Catholicism.]

There would have been converts to Roman Catholicism in England even without John Henry Newman. Most converts have been ordinary folk, converted by some sort of family connection, especially on their marriage to a practising Catholic.1 Even on a more exalted intellectual level, the tradition of conversion among poets like Hopkins and Patmore goes back to the seventeenth century, to Crashaw and Dryden, and in Newman's own day, some...

(The entire section is 6549 words.)