Date of Award
Catholics -- Intellectual life, English literature -- Catholic authors -- History and criticism, Religion and literature
In the early part of the 20th century German Catholic theologian and cultural critic, Romano Guardini, published The End of Modernity, outlining the conceptual shift of self-identity and cosmology from Antiquity to Modernity. Characterizing modernity as turning upon a false self-identity termed “mass man.” This false image of life furthers the individual person’s fragmentation, and deafens their ability to hear the Catholic voice. Walker Percy’s familiarity with Guardini is most explicit in The Last Gentleman where Percy represents the difficulty of hearing the call of Catholicism. Recently, Paul Elie and Dana Gioia have pointed out the lacking literary presence of Catholic authors in American culture, sparking debate among literary critics like Gregory Wolfe. I hold the position that this was foreseen by the Catholic intellect of the early twentieth century, articulated by Romano Guardini and employed in the fiction of Walker Percy. This paper focuses on articulating the difficulties faced by Catholic literature almost half a century ago and placing them in the context being discussed by contemporary critics. Concluding that if a Catholic novelist’s job is to make belief believable, a more productive and illuminating question is whether contemporary Catholic novelists face the same, if not more or less, difficult task of communicating the Catholic voice than their mid-twentieth century predecessors.
Maltese, Louis B., "For the Hard of Hearing: A Catholic Novelist Confronts Modernity" (2014). University Honors Theses. Paper 45.