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Three Women Writers and the “Jesuit Sublime”: Or, Jesuits in Love

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The return of the repressed “Catholic” has been lurking at the edge of English literary consciousness since early modern times, especially in the shorthand form of the plotting Jesuit. In its combined familiarity and mystery, grandeur and meanness, legitimacy and treason, “the Jesuit” even constitutes a figure for the Sublime. Novels by Thackeray, Kingsley, and Shorthouse locate the Jesuit in the political history of the nation, as the seducer of young noblemen. But this essay studies lesser-known novels by Elizabeth Inchbald, Frances Trollope, and Mary Arnold Ward in which the plotting Jesuit, himself an object of allure in his un-Anglican “reserve” and his pre-Reformation Englishness, is suborned by his own humanity into the forbidden sublimities of love. As political threat and psychological object of desire, the Jesuit-in-love also represents Anglicanism's flirtation with Catholicism and with Queerness, his defeat/conversion sealing its commitment to its heterosexual priesthood and its post-Catholic modernity.

Affiliations: 1: Boston College

10.1163/156852908X357399
/content/journals/10.1163/156852908x357399
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/content/journals/10.1163/156852908x357399
2009-01-01
2016-12-03

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