Robert Southwell the Writer; A Study in Religious Inspiration
London: Sheed & Ward, 1935. First edition. Tall octavo (9 7/8 inches tall), original black cloth, original dust wrapper. Very faint tanning and spotting to endpapers, early owner initials in bottom corner of blank flyleaf, scarce dust jacket with mild wear to corners and ends, toning to spine. A near-fine copy. Item #827
"IT IS NO MORE POSSIBLE TO UNDERSTAND SOUTHWELL APART FROM COUNTER-REFORMATION CATHOLICISM, THAN BUNYAN APART FROM PURITAN PROTESTANTISM"
First English edition of this French study of Robert Southwell, "the foremost representative of Catholic letters under Queen Elizabeth."
As a French scholar of the English Church, it was Pierre Janelle's intention to improve upon the inadequate nineteenth century biographies of Southwell: "the only studies in which Southwell's literary campaign is viewed in its true light are Fr. Herbert Thurston's extremely intelligent articles in the Month." These other biographies and studies, though well-meaning, mostly failed to account for the wide range of formative influences on Southwell's work, to the detriment of his poetry: "This hinders a true appreciation. not merely of their beauty, but also their influence."
Janelle's brief Preface (dated, "Clermont-Ferrand, November 5th, 1934") is followed by: Chapter I. Early Years Abroad - Southwell the Jesuit, Chapter II. The Apostolate of Letters in English Court Circles. Chapter III. The Test of Suffering and Death, Chapter IV. The Religious Background to Southwell's Works, Chapter V. A Jesuit Neo-Classic, Chapter VI. From Concettism to Directness, Chapter VII. The Earlier Prose Works: "Euphuism" and the Bible, Chapter VIII. Italian Mannerism and Christian Remorse: Saint Peters Complaint, Chapter IX. From Ancient Wisdom to Christian Fortitude: The Later Prose Works, Chapter X. Adaptation and Originality: The Detached Lyrics. Conclusion. The text is followed by a series of five Appendices and a lengthy Bibliography. Southwell evaded capture for six years before he was arrested and imprisoned and tortured. Eventually, he was tried and convicted and hanged at Tyburn in February 1595. Robert Southwell was canonized as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970. Printed in France (with Parisian Approbations) in English and published by Sheed and Ward.