Critical Context

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Morley Callaghan received his first writing encouragement in response to his short stories, stories that both Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald encouraged Maxwell Perkins at Scribner’s to publish. Callaghan’s first novel, Strange Fugitive (1928), a violence-ridden melodrama, along with the several books that followed it up to the publication of Such Is My Beloved in 1934, placed him in the camp of naturalistic writers concerned with the gritty realities of urban life and the realistic concern of social issues. None of his work before 1934 indicated his interest in writing religious allegory. Moreover, it has been noted that Such Is My Beloved has a milder and more fluent style than the hard-boiled prose of his earlier novels. Thus, this work is somewhat an anomaly in the Callaghan canon.

Critics have suggested that the idea for the novel grew out of Callaghan’s friendship with theologian Jacques Maritain at the time the work was written. In fact, the dedication reads: “To Those Times with M. in the Winter of 1933.” It is a novel that distinguishes him from his earlier image as a new fiction star similar to Hemingway, written during the high point of his career in the mid-1930’s, somewhat after his much-praised beginning in the 1920’s and just before his gradual decline from critical interest in the 1940’s.

Although Callaghan has published numerous stories and novels since the 1930’s, his...

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