Item description for Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh...
Overview Evelyn Waugh presented his biography of St. Edmund Campion, the Elizabethan poet, scholar and gentleman who became the haunted, trapped and murdered priest as "a simple, perfectly true story of heroism and holiness." But it is written with a novelist's eye for the telling incident and with all the elegance and feeling of a master of English prose. From the years of success as an Oxford scholar, to entry into the newly founded Society of Jesus and a professorship in Prague, Campion's life was an inexorable progress towards the doomed mission to England. There followed pursuit, betrayal, a spirited defense of loyalty to the Queen, and a horrifying martyr's death at Tyburn.
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.2" Width: 5.6" Height: 0.91" Weight: 0.85 lbs.
Release Date Mar 31, 2005
Publisher Ignatius Press
ISBN 1586170430 ISBN13 9781586170431
Availability 0 units.
More About Evelyn Waugh
Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), whom Time called "one of the century's great masters of English prose," wrote several widely acclaimed novels as well as volumes of biography, memoir, travel writing, and journalism. Three of his novels, A Handful of Dust, Scoop, and Brideshead Revisited, were selected by the Modern Library as among the 100 best novels of the twentieth century.
Reviews - What do customers think about Edmund Campion?
A Saint speaking out from Old England Nov 28, 2008
This was an amazing book. It was difficult to read as it is of any wholesale murder and suppression of a people. I had never been able to study the effects of the anti-catholic legislation and brutal suppression of the Church in England. I had alway studied it from the Irish perspective. I think that Saint Edmund Campion lived for as long as he did because he spent 10 years in Europe. Otherwise, he would have had a much shorter life, like Man-of-God Father Michael McGivney. He was already well-known in England for his writings, and oratory as a student and Deacon at Oxford University.
I was struck by a few items in this book. The first was Queen Elizabeth I's remark to her bishops and clergy as she neared death, calling them "hedge priests", meaning not being actually ordained and shooing them out. The other was the shear emptiness of the English people's lives created merely to satisfy the political and power ambitions of the English Government and ministers as opposed by the people at large who were generally sympathetic and preferred to remain Catholic. Evelyn Waugh commented about the Queen's Government doing all that it could to "removing the people from the Sacraments of the Church so that it would die out in a generation" was quite striking and saddening to picture. How desolute were their lives already, but to take away the one thing that they had for hundreds of years? Mr. Waugh also points out the destruction of the abbeys and great places of learning, "...that flowed to and from Europe, suddenly cutting off England from the rest of the Church", and the greatest minds and service of the monks and priests of the Church from the English people.
In Ireland, it was well known to us in America that there were safe houses and secret rooms to hide the priests and the vessels and vestments for Mass. I was surprised that this also occurred in England. I think that in many areas of history, Americans hear an "anglicized version" of the event and we see that prejudice in our books and common history.
I highly recommend this book. It can be painful to read, but should be read. I would recommend some research first on the creation of the Church of England by King Henry VIII, and the Penal Laws, the Law of Supremecy, and the Catholic Faith in England first. This system of suppression remained in force until the middle of the 19th Century! There is a whole litany of English saints and martyrs that have been lost, but are waiting to be rediscovered by you.
First-rate author meets first-rate saint! Nov 7, 2008
Often, when reading a biography of a saint, one is struck by a certain dissonance: the heavenly heights of the subject matter do not correspond to the writing level of the book. The saint biography is one of my favorite genres, but it is at times a chore to get by the substandard writing to penetrate the beauty of the life of the saint.
Nothing could be further from the case in "Edmund Campion" by Evelyn Waugh. Here we have a combination for the ages: the story of a magnificent saint told by one of the great authors of the 20th century. In many ways, it reminded me of Mark Twain's excellent book on Joan of Arc. Waugh's use of the language allows the story of Campion to come alive in ways a lesser author could have never conveyed. One is swept up into the time of Campion, and allowed to experience the persecution he experienced first-hand, as well as understand the motivating love behind his actions.
Highly recommended for all lovers of literature and the saints.
Finding Joy In Supreme Sacrifice Sep 26, 2008
Evelyn Waugh earned his place in letters as one of the 20th century's great acerbic wits, yet an undeniable cynicism in him was tempered by his Catholic spirituality. His "Edmund Campion" is an early testament to his religious identity, but fails to bring much of his literary gift to bear.
A promising Oxford student whose talent for debate won him many Anglican admirers, including Queen Elizabeth, Campion's life took a U-turn when something in him rebelled against the primrose path set before him. At a time when faith in old religion cost Englishmen their livelihoods if not their lives, Campion joined the Green Berets of the Catholic Church: The Jesuits, where the goal was the gaol, and grisly martyrdom.
"...there was that in Campion that made him more than a decent person; an embryo in the womb of his being, maturing in darkness, invisible, barely stirring; the love for holiness, the need for sacrifice," Waugh writes.
Published in 1935, after Waugh had published his first four scathing social novels, "Edmund Campion" examines a different kind of social transgression. The central problem of the book as I see it is Waugh's respectful handling of the Campion story leaves little room for the voice that Waugh had tempered by this point to such a sharp edge.
Another issue with Waugh's tone is it leaves little room for imaginative reconstruction. He's writing a pure history, just the facts, and except for two bookend episodes, neither of which feature Campion himself (one presents Elizabeth at the end of her life, the other a pair of street performers at the site of Campion's martyrdom), there's no color in Waugh's account. Often he will write something like "we cannot know what hopes stirred in Campion's heart" and leave it there, or else relate some fragmentary comment with some note of its historical dubiousness. It's frustrating, distance-putting reading.
Two sections of the book stick out as memorable. At the English College of Douai, in Holland, Campion prepares for his martyrdom knowingly and gratefully, a very surreal sequence read at this remove in time. In the other, Campion is tried, ridiculously, by a kangaroo court where he is tortured nearly to death between court sessions but still manages to make his case, puncturing the trumped-up charge of treason and calling attention to the fact his real crime was holding to the same faith that Englishmen and women lived under for centuries.
"He and his fellows were to die, but the world must know the cause," Waugh explains.
But there are long arid stretches between those two sections, and much of the rest has Waugh discussing the Campion story as if the priests he wrote it for and already knew the tale were its only audience. A worthwhile endeavor, "Edmund Campion" doesn't quite hit the mark as a Waugh must-read, but is worth checking out for those who admire Waugh and want to know more about what made him tick.
heroic, Inspirational Bio Aug 9, 2008
A bio of the English Catholic martyr. Detailed. Not a light read, but if the era or the subject interests you, the book will not disappoint.
Great book Jun 20, 2007
It is always good to read about the saints, but the writing of those who write on the saints is not always good. It is no surprise that one of the great writers of the last century such as Evelyn Waugh would turn out a great book.
Edmund Campion is a biography of the Jesuit Saint Edmund Campion who was martyred in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation and the increasingly severe penal laws in England. This book was written in 1935 only five years after Waugh's conversion into the Catholic Church. It is a straightforward biography based on the best historical research available at the time. The author does not inject himself in the book in that he tries hard to stick to the historical narrative of what can actually be known and any dialogue in the book is straight from the historical record. This is in no way some syrupy hagiography that diverges from facts with flowery stories or that tries to inflate the actions of Edmund Campion. Though considering the subject this is not much needed when you look at his amazing life.
The book running at a little more than 200 pages is divided into four very appropriate chapters: The Scholar, The Priest, The Hero, The Martyr. I wonder if you have to give a spoiler alert when you are talking a martyr. Evelyn Waugh provides the necessary historical background of the state of the Church and of the politics involved and you fast become involved in the biography as if you were reading a novel. Every time you read about the recusants and those in Church history who were persecuted for the faith it always gives you a greater appreciation of what most Catholics in the modern world take for granted. When we go to Mass we aren't worried that somebody is going to turn us in or that we don't need guards to warn is people are coming so that the priest can hide in the priest-hole.
The first two chapters deal with his academic life and his early career as he initially leaves England because of the growing persecution of Catholics and his decision to become a priest and then a Jesuit. The biographic then moves to his returning to England. Like many saints he was not specifically making decisions that would lead him on the road to martyrdom. In fact circumstances could have left him teaching in Vienna and Prague since the Jesuits at the time had no chapters in England. But also like many saints when it became apparent that he would indeed be traveling down that road it was done with joy.
As Waugh chronicles Campion's year of attending to the Catholics in England you again get caught up in the drama as he and other priests continue to minister to the flock for the good of souls. It is a measure of Campion's genius that his "Brag" that he wrote in a half-hour's time to defend himself from charges of treason was printed and reprinted across England. Or that his famous Ten Reasons would provide much annoyance to the authorities at the time. So annoying that once he was captured and tortured they brought him to a series of debates to try to counter it. Waugh does not dwell much into St. Campion's grisly martyrdom that will be familiar to those that saw Braveheart, but it is quite interesting the stories he describes by those who were converted by Campion in his last days.
Highly recommended and one of those rare biographies that is indeed a page-turner.