Category Archives: Great Writers

Great Writers

In Medieval universities, the first three subjects a student was instructed in were grammar, logic, and rhetoric: what Aristotle called the Trivium of the seven liberal arts. Respectively, they are the arts of writing, thinking, and speaking well. They are called liberal, because they are skills that every man should acquire in some degree, in contrast with the fine arts, which specialize.

This section of our website is dedicated not to great books, although many are referenced, but to great articles, essays, and poems, composed by great Catholic writers. These masters of the pen were not all exceptionally gifted wordsmiths, but they were all gifted in the art of communicating important Catholic information in logical and lucid composition.

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Dostoievsky’s Prince Myshkin, “The Idiot”

After reading together with my wife last night our Austrian friend Friedrich Romig’s carefully crafted and profound review of a 2013 book in German by Botho Strauss, we even started to consider, in light of Dostoievsky’s presentation of Prince Myshkin, a rather unexpected theme, namely (in my wife’s own words) “holiness as counterrevolution.” We also then continued—though it was very late in the evening—to talk … More →

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The Disadvantages of Comfort

When an inspiring Scottish friend recently teased me with a trenchant quote from John Henry Newman’s sermon, entitled “Religious Cowardice,” I deployed my resourcefulness promptly to find, if I could, the entire homily and to read it. Gratefully, I did. It is to be found in the second volume of his eight-volume collection of Anglican Sermons over the years 1834-1843, and it was originally delivered … More →

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Neither Communism Nor Capitalism — a Christian Society

Review of Solzhenitzyn, A Soul in Exile, by Joseph Pearce. Ignatius Press, 2012. Having recently been in a Russian kind of mood after my review of Dr. Warren Carroll’s 1917, Red Banners, White Mantle, when I saw this book in my favorite bookstore (at Saint Benedict Center, naturally), I eagerly picked it up and quickly became absorbed in it. Considering the fact that in between … More →

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‘The Penalties of Truth’ and Belloc’s Traveller

It is often the case, well known to the close readers of Hilaire Belloc’s varied essays, that he surprises us with some of his profoundest reflections and most memorable formulations in those lighter essays of his so full of banter and irony; or even in his brief, magnanimous considerations of other prose writers and poets, such as Dr. Samuel Johnson or Lord Byron, neither of … More →

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Belloc’s Verse on Our Lady and the Challenge of Faith

As we ourselves gratefully remember Hilaire Belloc this year, especially on the 60th Anniversary of his death, let us first consider “Courtesy,” his brief and evocatively allusive poem of seven short, rhymed stanzas (six four-line ones, and a final three-line stanza). For, it shows a special aspect of Belloc’s own humble answering heart: indeed the intimate bond he perceived between attentive courtesy and charity. We … More →

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Baring, Dostoievski, and the Prevaricating Press

In 1927—some twenty-three years after the Menshevik Revolution and a decade after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—Maurice Baring published an anthology of his earlier writings, entitled What I Saw in Russia. Lenin had died in 1924, and Stalin was on the verge of securing his own rule, which was largely consolidated by 1928. Therefore, Baring chose to report on those earlier things he had observed … More →

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Maurice Baring’s Memorable Perceptions of War

After considering several varied, but representative, insights from Maurice Baring’s 1905 book, With the Russians in Manchuria, we shall be even more grateful to reflect upon the admonitory conclusions he draws from his trenchant depiction of modern war, which he so diversely experienced in several foreign cultures before the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Moreover, his piercing and humane warning about the nature … More →

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The Intellectual Magnanimity of Chesterton and Belloc’s Humor

On this manifold Sacred Feast Day, we propose to offer a perhaps unexpected, but quite illuminating contrast with the honored historical figure of Saint Joan of Arc, Virgin—who was killed by the English at nineteen years of age in 1431. And thus we shall now consider another vivid, but very different sort of woman in literary history, as distinct from religious or political history: herself … More →

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G.K. Chesterton in Praise of Chaucer

In 1932, four years before his death and only ten years after his having entered the Catholic Church, G.K. Chesterton wrote a vivid and capacious book on the medieval Catholic poet, Geoffrey Chaucer (d.1400). With his characteristic modesty, his book was simply entitled Chaucer. (One year later, Chesterton would also publish his even more profound book on Saint Thomas Aquinas (d.1274), and once more it flowed … More →

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Canterbury Cathedral ca. 1900

Hilaire Belloc’s Canterbury Tale

In 1905, just before he entered the House of Commons for four discouraging years (1906-1910), Hilaire Belloc published a variegated and copious book, entitled The Old Road, about his eight-day journey afoot from Winchester to Canterbury, the latter also being the place where, on the 29th of December in 1170, Saint Thomas à Becket was martyred. Click here to VIEW full size, DOWNLOAD as PDF … More →

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‘And You Cannot Build Upon a Lie’

In 1920, ten years after Hilaire Belloc had stepped down from his four maturing years of publicly elected service in the House of Commons, he published a lucid book-length essay, entitled, The House of Commons and Monarchy. It is a forthright and equitably proportioned work with a clearly stated thesis; and the development of Belloc’s presented evidence and argumentation will help us still better understand … More →

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Charlemagne with Alcuin

Restoring a Catholic Memory

On How to Develop a Catholic Sense Without a Catholic Culture To restore to his people a true memory Alexander Solzhenitsyn has accepted almost unspeakable sacrifice and loss, and especially the cross of patience. Solzhenitsyn has attempted to draw his people forth from an asphyxiating rubble of distortion just as he has himself been drawn forth: trusting and contending, marked and transfigured by grace, an … More →

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Pilgrim on the Camino Santiago

Hilaire Belloc’s View of a Pilgrimage

When Hilaire Belloc was a rumbustious young man in his mid-thirties, and only a few years after he had completed his journey afoot to Rome, he wrote an essay entitled “The Idea of a Pilgrimage,” which first appeared in his memorable 1906 collection of essays Hills and the Sea. In this essay are some insights — even about “the heart of a child” — which … More →

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Hilaire Belloc

On Hilaire Belloc and a Great Wind

When Hilaire Belloc was a vigorous forty years of age, and three years before his life was shaken and shattered by the death of his wife Elodie on Candlemas 1914, he wrote an intimately evocative essay, entitled “On a Great Wind.” This brief and vivid piece—characteristically combining concrete intimacy and sacred mystery in his inimitably poetic “sacramental prose”—leads us also to the contemplation of God’s … More →

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Joe Sobran

For Sobran Lovers (I’m One)

There are still persons who will open a book and read instead of watching whatever’s on television or fiddling with an iPhone when they have leisure and whether or not the time is planned. (When they are truly devoted readers, it will be.) I know these persons exist because I am one. Some of us remaining readers rejoiced a few years ago when The Library … More →

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