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This review is taken from PN Review 35, Volume 10 Number 3, January - February 1984.

ALIEN ENGLISHMAN C. H. Sisson, Anglican Essays (Carcanet) £6.95

Thirty years ago, Wyndham Lewis - who, to the annoyance of Mr Eliot, had taken to caricaturing Anglican clergymen in his fiction- Posed a characteristically loaded question:


Can the 'amateurish, infinitely latitudinarian English Church - allowing, as it does, every idiosyncrasy in its priesthood, so that we find in its ranks everything from a Marxist to a papist-can so doctrinally flaccid and obligingly adulterated a faith - can so go-as-you-please and teach-as-you-like unmilitant an institution as the Church of England, do anything but read the burial service over religion, and keep its grave in a decent condition?


C. H. Sisson may not agree that the Church in the fifties was as badly off as that but his latest collection of essays, a challenging book in his best lethally subversive manner, presents an equally pessimistic verdict on the condition since reached by the communion to which he is so dedicated. His eloquent assaults on the so-called reforms of the Anglican liturgy are well known, especially to readers of PN Review. They are brought together in this new book along with his incisive questioning of the doctrinal directions being taken by Church leaders on a variety of issues. 'So conscious of fashion has the Church become . . .' he complains, 'that many are left wondering whether it is not so much set against the world as following the world's teaching, but at a respectful distance.'

In his social criticism as ...


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