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Book Review

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Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Journal






Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Journal

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In The Return of Christian Humanism: Chesterton, Eliot, Tolkien, and the Romance of History, Lee Oser, a professor of literature at Holy Cross College, follows Chesterton's lead in taking on the heretics, decadents, and aesthetes within the postmodernist critical establishment, extolling Chesterton, Eliot, and Tolkien as defenders of reason and romance and vilifying influential late twentieth-century critics such as Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler, whose alleged attacks on the liberal humanist tradition Oser sees as having eroded not only literary scholarship but indeed the very underpinnings of democratic society. In his preface Oser asserts, "Without scruple or debate, our schools condone the blindest intellectual prejudice of the twentieth century, and maybe the key to its horrors, the idea that religion is the enemy of art and culture" (ix). But Chesterton, Eliot, and Tolkien, having written during a period when "the institutional arrangements of our own time were visible," Oser observes, "give us the chance for renewal and renaissance .... They were embattled but not wholly isolated figures, major writers in English who understood their art as an effort to keep the sacred wellsprings of culture open" (x). Oser-like Chesterton: a novelist, apologist, and critic combined-clearly understands his own art similarly, and this book as his own effort to keep these wellsprings open.


Originally Published by Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association in Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association Journal.

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