Ronald Knox occupies a conspicuous role in English religious, cultural and literary history, and he was also one of the leading lights of the English “Catholic revival” of the first half of the twentieth century. This collection of essays examines his many interests, setting them in their historical context. It discusses the profound effect that the Great War had on his religious life, his engagement with Benedictine spirituality, the distinctive characteristics of his apologetics and preaching, and his engagement with a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. In so doing, it illuminates aspects of his life, as well as the circumstances of his several pastoral ministries, that have been neglected.
Like Thomas More, whom Erasmus famously dubbed “a man for all seasons for all men,” Ronald Knox was a man of many talents. He was a classicist, writer of fiction, translator, theologian, essayist, journalist, historian, preacher and spiritual guide. His aptitude for writing in a variety of literary genres was evident from an early age. This volume addresses Knox’s original contribution to each area of his interests, literary as well as theological. It illustrates his insights into Virgil’s Aeneid, explains the value of his fiction and discusses the merits of his translation of the Bible. It also looks into Knox’s deep understanding of the liturgy and the reasons why his spirituality had and continues to have such a strong appeal. Finally, it suggests that many aspects of his theology and his use of humour and satire remain pertinent today. The volume includes a selection of Knox’s unpublished writings, as well as published ones that are now difficult to trace.
This impressive collection is a significant achievement. It combines unpublished primary source material, contemporaneous reflections, and thoughtful critical essays that both advance scholarship on Ronald Knox in their own right and suggest how fecund a field of study his oeuvre is for future scholars. Its refreshingly serious treatment of Knox’s work thus furthers a much overdue reappraisal of a leading figure in the Catholic literary revival, and makes a valuable contribution to recent work in British religious and literary history. A rich resource for those already familiar with Knox, this volume will prove an intelligent introduction for the uninitiated, and a catalyst for further studies of his life and legacy and of the many fields to which he contributed.
— Adam Schwartz, Christendom College