Historian and His World: A Life of Christopher Dawson, 1889-1970

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Overview

As a historian of ideas, Christopher Dawson was one of the most distinguished Catholic thinkers of the twentieth century. He was a scholar of immense erudition, a writer of great style and fluency, and the first Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic studies at Harvard. It is in the field of the history of ideas that he achieved his most lasting influence. This biography by Christina Scott, Dawson's daughter, is a sensitive portrait of a complex and fascinating scholar.

The author's first-hand knowledge and her access to unpublished family memoirs has enabled her to paint a convincing picture of the basic personal security provided by Dawson's private life, his friendships, and his deep Christian faith-a personal security all too often required as a bulwark against the vicissitudes and disappointments of his public life. Dawson's Catholicism proved a problem to advancement in his academic career; and when public recognition of his true stature finally came, in the form of the Stillman Chair, it came late in life and in a country other than his own.

Christina Scott shows that Dawson is best understood as he himself interpreted his historical subjects-in the context of "the spiritual world in which he lived, the ideas that moved him, and the faith that inspired his action." Dawson was not a historian of ideas for their own sake; he had a passionate belief in their liberating power. A Historian and His World will be of interest to intellectual historians, historians of religion, and students of modern Catholic thought. This is the first publication of the Dawson biography in the United States. It is graced by a postscript written by Christopher Dawson reflecting upon the meaning of his work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“To sum up the life of Christopher Dawson is not an easy task. . . . [I]n A Historian and His World—of which “A Life of Christopher Dawson” is a subtitle—his daughter Christina Scott succeeds marvelously. . . . [M]odestly and wonderfully crafted, full of affection and insight but also with a splendid kind of detachment, and excellently written. . . . [T]his book is not only fresh with insights. It is a first-class introduction to that enormous corpus of work within which we can discern Dawson’s essential idearium.”

—John Lukacs, The Intercollegiate Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560000136
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1991
  • Series: Library of Conservative Thought Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Christina Scott has worked in publishing and journalism. She is co-editor with James Oh'ver of an important posthumous collection of Christopher Dawson's work published as Religion and World History.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition 5
Preface 9
1 First Beginning 13
2 The Alien World 31
3 Oxford in the Golden Age 41
4 Love and Conversion 59
5 Early Married Life 68
6 Exeter 75
7 Achievement 89
8 Return to the North 108
9 Crisis in Europe 120
10 A Writer's War 134
11 A Wider Public 152
12 American Adventure 187
13 The Last Years 204
A Summing Up 209
Christopher Dawson: The Historian of Ideas 212
Appendix to the Transaction Edition 217
Notes 241
A Selected Bibliography 247
Index 261
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