Where Have All the Catholic Writers Gone…

Where Have All the Catholic Writers Gone… December 22, 2011

Here’s an interesting article on The Millions. Writer Robert Fay notes,

“There was a time in the middle of the 20th Century when Catholic writers, many of them converts to the Church, were icons of the Anglo-American literary scene…The obvious reason for this literary vacuum is that the Christian faith, and the Catholic Church in particular, have been in full-cultural retreat since the 1960s.”

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  • Seraphic

    There are living Catholic writers, just not of the same stature among us (yet) as Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and Muriel Spark. A few that jump to mind are David Richard Adams, Michael O’Brien and Richard Greene (Canadian), Piers Paul Read, David Lodge and Fiorella di Maria (British)… No doubt there are Americans, too!

    Possibly it takes a thicker skin and skull than ever to persist in the writing world when one is a Catholic, but that doesn’t mean the Catholic writers aren’t out there. And most of the people mentioned above have won big writing awards.

    Graham Greene was a great great writer but not exactly a poster boy for traditional Catholicism. Neither was Waugh, come to think of it. And one Catholic press singled out Muriel Spark in particular as a bad role model when it turned down an earlier version of my “Seraphic Singles.”

    It would be nice if, instead of moaning about a lack of Catholic writers, Catholic bloggers highlighted what Catholic authors are indeed out there, scribbling away come hell and high water.

    • Simcha Fisher made a comment on FB that Catholic publishers aren’t the most supportive of Catholic writers and a few have had to go to secular press. I wouldn’t know from personal experience, having never written a book, so you might be able to confirm her thoughts on the matter.

      I wasn’t really moaning about a lack of writers but only noting what I thought was an interesting article. I do agree with his statement about the cultural retreat beginning in the 60’s however.

      • Seraphic

        I find the idea of “having to go to the secular press” rather funny when you consider how rich and established the “secular press” is compared to “the Catholic press.” I don’t know what Simcha gets paid per column, but I bet it’s not as much as an established secular paper pays per column.

        The truth is that writers get a lot of rejection letters, whatever their religion. I’ve been turned down by Catholic presses, and I’ve been turned down by secular presses. I’ve had stuff never even acknowledged as having been received by secular presses. Really, rejection is the writer’s lot.

        What I’d love to see is Catholics buying more books from Catholic publishers. Ahem. Especially those Catholic publishers who like me. (Yay, Novalis! Yay, Ignatius!)

        Now I must go find Simcha’s FB comment.

  • Timothy Canny

    “In short, what for centuries had seemed eternal, mysterious, and rich in symbolism — the very marrow that feeds artists — was suddenly being conducted in the same language as sitcoms, TV commercials, and business meetings.”

    I remember, in my youth, thinking “what’s so special about church?”. I think this is one of the things that contributed to that attitude. Another being that nobody seemed to be able to answer my question, i.e. poor catechesis.

  • Bob

    Kat, thanks very kindly for this post and the reference to The Millions. I stopped in there, read the article and all the comments, and left one of my own.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  • kenneth

    The other part of the answer is that there is no more “Anglo-American literary scene.” We have a nation of semi-literate people who have the attention span of a fruit fly. If it’s longer than a Tweet or Facebook update, and if it’s more esoteric than the Oprah book of the week, it doesn’t get read, and nobody pays anyone to produce “content” anymore.

  • James Bremner

    we have all kinds of catholic writers here in Canada:
    Michael O’Brien;
    Michael Coren, Why Catholics are right; and
    David Warren. check them out!