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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome new biography, 15 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Ronald Knox and English Catholicism (Paperback)
'Monsignor Knox' towered over my English Catholic 1950s and 60s childhood. The nuns who taught us seemed half in love with him (never having met him), a phenomenon not explained by his friend Evelyn Waugh's biography, written almost immediately after his death. In this very welcome - and shorter - new biography, Terry Tastard brings Knox very close and the reader may begin to understand the Monsignor's personal impact which went so far beyond his exalted social circle.

Knox's abiding legacy is his translation of the Bible which has always had its critics. Every child in my Westminster diocesan school was given a 'Knox Bible' to keep, testimony to the very Edwardian Knox's influence even through the upheavals of Vatican II. On my bookshelf, the AV, RSV, NEB and JB sit alongside my old school Knox which alone is terribly dog-eared; the others have received more respectful but far less affectionate treatment. Perhaps Knox's Evangelical patrimony, so well described by Tastard, accounts for the touching tenderness found so often in Knox's text. The relaxed yet consciously hieratic rhythm in his Job XXII: 21-28, for example, encapsulates sweetly and succinctly the eternal promise of the Christian vocation, conveying such an assurance of love as to comprise a near-perfect form of blessing. It may serve as an encouragement to commitment in the young but also as a fitting prayer of committal for the dear dead who, their temporal frailty or decrepitude now ended, suddenly and most (super-) naturally, in one's inner vision and *sub specie aeternitatis*, assume a more complete form of their youthful vitality, as one senses - and hopes and prays - that they are about to enter into and enjoy eternally what Christ, through Knox's Job, promises so poetically. Knox's Bible is the effective priestly preaching of a man who is brought vividly to life in Tastard's affectionate although not adulatory biography.

I am grateful to Terry Tastard for Maurice Baring's remark to GKC (p.195): `Space and freedom: that was what I experienced [on becoming a Catholic] ... the exact opposite of what the ordinary Protestant conceives to be the case.' That must sound quite barmy to an atheist, or even to an Anglican, but rings very true to a Catholic who cut their teeth on Knox.

The book's references are very helpful but the paltry index invokes the wrathful shade of the late Bernard Levin whose imprecations upon lazy publishers included the oft-repeated demand that books without (adequate) indexes should be burned. Levin went perhaps a little farther than I should, myself.
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