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Apologia Pro Vita Sua

John Henry Newman

Book Overview: 

A religious autobiography of unsurpassed interest, the simple confidential tone of which "revolutionized the popular estimate of its author," establishing the strength and sincerity of the convictions which had led him into the Roman Catholic Church (Wikipedia).

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .If confidence in his position is, (as it is,) a first essential in the leader of a party, this Dr. Pusey possessed pre-eminently. The most remarkable instance of this, was his statement, in one of his subsequent defences of the Movement, when moreover it had advanced a considerable way in the direction of Rome, that among its more hopeful peculiarities was its "stationariness." He made it in good faith; it was his subjective view of it.

Dr. Pusey's influence was felt at once. He saw that there ought to be more sobriety, more gravity, more careful pains, more sense of responsibility in the Tracts and in the whole Movement. It was through him that the character of the Tracts was changed. When he gave to us his Tract on Fasting, he put his initials to it. In 1835 he published his elaborate Treatise on Baptism, which was followed by[Pg 63] other Tracts from different authors, if not of equal learning, yet of equal power and appositeness. The Catenas of Anglican d. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Take a long, slow walk through this masterpiece.

Newman's autobiography is "the only one that bears mentioning in the same sentence with Augustine's Confessions". In this opinion of Father Oakes SJ I do concur. To enter into the Apologia (hereafter APVS) is to draw near to the heart of one of the...more

The word that came to mind while reading Apologia was: plodding. And that's okay. Newman's account of the seismic shift in his thinking that led eventually to reception into the Roman Catholic Church is not a fast read, nor a particularly enjoyable read. It is Newman as a Catholic, re-tracing the...more

I suspect I would have been better served reading about Newman than reading him, though his prose is quite lovely (by eighteenth century standards, at least, which are rather low). This is an excellent edition, though.

2.5/5.

This was my "boss level" before walking the Canterbury Trail and hitching my wagon to the Anglican Communion.

It's my duty, no doubt, to write at length on the Apologia in the near future, but for now suffice it to say I was hugely underwhelmed. What has been hailed as one of the great con...more

I finished the actual Apologia, but have not read all of the appendices which shed light on aspects of the main work. Newman's sensitivity, his awareness and his insight is astonishing: things which to the ordinary soul would appear as mere trifles to his mind loom large. Not for him just sweepin...more

I finished it, sort of. I finished the main text, not all the appendices and I cannot say I understood all I read. But what I understood stretched me. Currently I am rereading The One Thing Is Three: How the Most Holy Trinity Explains Everything (for the 3rd time I think) by Fr. Michael Gaitley a...more

John Henry Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua is generally considered not only a great work of theology, but also one of the great classics of English literature. Often compared to Augustine’s Confessions, one of the first reviews (included in this Norton Critical Edition) goes so far as to call it “...more

“A Defense of One's Life” is not a great work and I would not suggest it to anyone as a ‘must read’. However I don’t think the book is lacking because Newman is at fault, but because the book is misconstrued to be a classic when that isn’t what the author intended. Newman was obviously writing to...more

Impressive description of John Newman's way to Rome and his answers to an impertinent critic.

I was surprised by this book. Often it is mentioned as one of the great classics of spirituality; often it is compared to Augustine's Confessions.

But it is not a spiritual work in that sense. It is not intended to edify. It is, simply, a record of Newman's changing beliefs which led by a fairly...more

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