Newman's Callista: An Apologia for Ritual

Fanucchi, Sonia
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Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Newman’s Callista (1855) has been difficult to place: scholars have tended simultaneously to dismiss it for what they perceive as its Gothic melodrama and to criticize its realist lack of sensationalism. I propose that the text has been misread, in part because of misleading assumptions about the nineteenth century historical novel. Rather than simply a religious polemic, I suggest that Callista can be read as an apologia for ritual, which is presented as an exploration of the spiritual reach of language itself and its power ritually to transform the historical moment. This involves the deliberate rewriting and dismantling of the ‘medieval’, Gothic caricatures so frequently associated with the anti-Catholic narratives of the time.
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION , John Henry Newman , realism , anti-Catholicism
Sonia Fanucchi, 'Newman's Callista: An Apologia for Ritual', Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 29 (2019): 1-24