So I've read Short's introduction and am reading the lectures now, in the midst of Lecture V, "The Providential Course of the Movement of 1833 [Newman's term for the Oxford or Tractarian Movement he had previously led with Keble and Pusey] not in the Direction of a Party in the National Church". Short's footnotes throughout these lectures are also very thorough, identifying works, literary allusions, people Newman refers to, etc., providing additional depth of context.Tolkien's Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, which I purchased at Eighth Day Books:Tolkien’s Modern Reading addresses the claim that Tolkien “read very little modern fiction, and took no serious notice of it.” This claim, made by one of his first biographers, has led to the widely accepted view that Tolkien was dismissive of modern culture, and that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are fundamentally medieval and nostalgic in their inspiration.
In fact, as Holly Ordway demonstrates in this major corrective, Tolkien enjoyed a broad range of contemporary works, engaged with them in detail and depth, and even named specific titles as sources for and influences upon his creation of Middle-earth.
Drawing on meticulous archival research, Ordway shows how Tolkien appreciated authors as diverse as James Joyce and Beatrix Potter, Rider Haggard and Edith Nesbit, William Morris and Kenneth Grahame. She surveys the work of figures such as S.R. Crockett and J.H. Shorthouse, who are forgotten now but made a significant impression on Tolkien. He even read Americans like Longfellow and Sinclair Lewis, assimilating what he read in characteristically complex ways, both as positive example and as influence-by-opposition.
Tolkien’s Modern Reading not only enables a clearer understanding of Tolkien’s epic, it also illuminates his views on topics such as technology, women, empire, and race. For Tolkien’s genius was not simply backward-looking: it was intimately connected with the literature of his own time and concerned with the issues and crises of modernity. Ordway’s ground-breaking study reveals that Tolkien brought to the workings of his fantastic imagination a deep knowledge of both the facts and the fictions of the modern world.
At any rate no credence whatever could have been given to this particular charge made by these notorious 'visitors'; for although, according to them, West Acre was by far the foulest lived of all the Norfolk religious houses, in October of the very year when their report of the prior of Westacre's personal and conventual enormities had been rendered, William Wingfield was one of the fourteen Norfolk gentlemen specially appointed by the king to abide in their counties and act as justices to keep good order during the absence of the rest of the gentlemen and noblemen during the northern rebellion, the priors of West Acre and Castle Acre being the only two ecclesiastics of the county selected for this honour. (fn. 23)
On 15 January, 1538, West Acre Priory, with the dependent priory or cell of Great Massingham and all its possessions, was surrendered to Robert Southwell, attorney of the Augmentation Office, to be held by him for a year with remainder to the king. The surrender was signed by the prior and seven of the canons. This was the first of the monastic 'surrenders,' and its farcical character is clear; for a month earlier (16 December, 1537) Sir Roger Townsend wrote to Cromwell saying that all the goods of West Acre Priory had been sequestrated according to order and inventories taken. On 9 December there had been some endeavour otherwise to dispose of the monastic property. Commissioner Layton waxed wroth on this subject, and in a letter to Cromwell from West Acre, three days after its 'surrender,' he wrote:—
As for Westacre, what falsehood in the prior and convent, what bribery, spoil, and ruin contrived by the inhabitants it were long to write; but their wrenches, wiles, and guiles shall nothing them prevail. (fn. 24)
Prior Wingfield, notwithstanding his reputed sins and trickery, had the handsome pension granted him of £40 per annum, of which he was still in receipt in 1555; he also held the rectory of Burnham Thorpe.
The 'surrender' of West Acre was accompanied by a vaguely but extravagantly worded 'confession' of lax living. The better known and absurd so-called 'confession' of the monks of St. Andrew's, Northampton, has been dealt with in another volume of this series. (fn. 25) The private correspondence of the visitors with the Lord Privy Seal makes it quite clear that these two confessions (the only ones on record) were written by them; it is more than probable that neither the canons of the one house nor the monks of the other had any knowledge whatsoever of the documents in question. This is a grave charge to make against Ap Rice, Legh, and Layton; but those who have studied the Cromwell correspondence at the Public Record Office at first hand cease to be surprised at any depth of moral turpitude displayed by his active agents. (fn. 26)