A Fine Awareness
Newman and His Contemporaries
by Edward Short
T&T Clark, 2011
(530 pages, $32.95, paperback)
reviewed by Christopher White
In the preface to The Princess Casamassima Henry James notes that “the figures in any picture, the agents in any drama, are interesting only in proportion as they feel their respective situations. . . . Their being finely aware—as Hamlet and Lear, say, are finely aware—makes absolutely the intensity of their adventure, gives the maximum of sense to what befalls them.” In Newman and His Contemporaries Edward Short uses these words to describe the interior life of John Henry Newman. Newman, like James, was his own best critic and had a profound sense of self. Here Short offers an engaging account of how his inner life gave manifestation to his role in the public life of the nineteenth century.
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