Newman and the Anxiety of Influence

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1991


Department of English, U.S. Naval Academy


There is much to suggest that Charles Kingsley's climactic controversy with Newman in 1864 resulted from the enduring threat Newman's conversion posed to Kingsley's latitudinarian theology. Many of Kingsley's contemporaries had a difficult time "managing" Newman's decision, (1) but this became conspicuously true in Kingsley's obsessive response. Having settled the anxieties of his own life by adopting the broad compromise of Frederick Denison Maurice in the early 'forties, Kingsley apparently lived for the next twenty years in fear of another who denied the possibility of such an accommodation. He continued to worry that he, too, might find compromise impossible, and wrote in 1857: "I fear sometimes that I shall end by a desperate lunge into one extreme or the other. I should have done so long ago (for this battle has gone on in me since childhood), had I not seen something of a compromise in what Maurice has taught me." (2)

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