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Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'The Social and Political Thought of the Oxford Movement$
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S. A. Skinner

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273232

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273232.001.0001

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Sources of Tractarian Criticism

Sources of Tractarian Criticism

(p.31) 1 Sources of Tractarian Criticism
Tractarians and the 'Condition of England'

S. A. Skinner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This book makes systematic use of two neglected, though rich, sources for tractarian thought. The first is the British Critic, a quarterly periodical rapidly established by John Henry Newman as the movement's house magazine. The general neglect of the Critic is the more remarkable given that it was commandeered and edited by Newman at a time when first-generation tractarianism was at its most radical and ebullient. Where the periodical material often elaborated the theoretical framework for a social criticism, the second source — tractarian fiction — aimed at its practical application. This fiction came in the form of ‘social’ or ‘condition of England’ novels written by William Gresley and Francis Edward Paget, whose colourful and polemically charged tales afford superabundant illustration of those social attitudes that are anatomised later in the book. The social novels relentlessly emphasise the duties as well as rights bestowed by property, and pronounce on the broadest conceivable range of contemporary issues, from commercialism and industrialism, to political economy and the new poor law, the working conditions of the urban and rural poor, and the dangers of socialism and Chartism.

Keywords:   tractarianism, British Critic, John Henry Newman, William Gresley, Francis Edward Paget, social criticism, fiction, social novels, commercialism

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