Edward Norman

Losing Faith

Souls in Torment: Victorian Faith in Crisis

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Sinclair-Stevenson 590pp £25 order from our bookshop

The Age of Doubt: Tracing the Roots of Our Religious Uncertainty

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Yale University Press 233pp £18 order from our bookshop

These two studies of Victorian religious scepticism are extremely welcome, and for largely different reasons. Giles St Aubyn’s Souls in Torment is a magisterial account of the background and growth of doubt, structured according to theme, so that the ideas of the leading thinkers reappear in several places. In The Age of Doubt, Christopher Lane discusses the same set of intellectuals, but focuses on the controversies that subsequently developed out of their work. Whereas St Aubyn’s style indicates experience of the classroom (he is a distinguished teacher), Lane’s approach is influenced by intellectual and everyday discussion in contemporary America, where he is a professor. Their different perspectives instructively illuminate Victorian debates. 

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