Sunday, September 23, 2012

CUA and One Thomas More

The Catholic University of America Press has a new book on St. Thomas More coming out next month: The One Thomas More:

"Thomas More" the humanist. "Sir Thomas More" the statesman. "Saint Thomas More" the martyr. Who was Thomas More? Which characterization of him is most true? Despite these multiple images and the problems of More's true identity, Travis Curtright uncovers a continuity of interests and, through interdisciplinary contexts, presents one Thomas More.

The One Thomas More carefully studies the central humanist and polemical texts written by More to illustrate a coherent development of thought. Focusing on three major works from More's humanist phase, The Life of Pico, The History of Richard III, and Utopia, Curtright demonstrates More's idea of humanitas and his corresponding program of moderate political reform. Curtright then shows how More's later polemical theology and defense of the ecclesiastical courts were a continuation of his commitments rather than a break from them. Finally, More's prison letters are examined. His self-presentation in these letters is compared with other recent and iconic versions, such as those in Robert Bolt's Man for All Seasons and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Instead of a divided mind emerging, Curtright ably shows More's integrity and consistency of thought.


Travis Curtright, is a fellow of the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, associate professor of literature at Ave Maria University, and coeditor of Shakespeare's Last Plays: Essays in Politics and Literature.

The CUA catalog often has fascinating titles, but since it is a university press, many of the books are priced so that only a library could afford them--and the ebook price is the same at the hardcover!

Anyway, here's some information about the cover painting: "Holbien's Studio" by John Evan Hodgson (1831-1895) from the Wolverhampton Art Gallery in the West Midlands/Staffordshire:

Summary: Oil painting of a man looking at a portrait of himself on an easel. Next to him sits a woman and another man stands beside her, also looking at the portrait. The portrait is in an ornate gold frame. In the background detailed patterned wallpaper can be seen.

Description: The German painter Hans Holbein (1497-1543) came to England in the early 1530's on recommendation of the Dutch Humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam. He was employed by the court of Henry VIII through Sir Thomas More, a friend of Erasmus. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was an English statesman. He was also a humanist and wrote the book 'Utopia'. Henry VIII made him a diplomat and later Lord Chancellor. More was imprisoned and executed when he refused to sign Henry's Act of Supremacy making him more important than the Pope. Hodgeson's painting shows Holbein with More in his studio. He is showing More his finished portrait. Both men look quite happy about the finished product. Hodgeson must have seen portraits of both men by Holbein.

John Evan Hodgson was a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and if you are "quite happy about the finished product" in this picture, you can see more of John Evan Hodgson's work here.

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