The School of Ronald Knox | An Interview with David Rooney, author of The Wine of Certitude: A Literary Biography of Ronald Knox | January 26, 2009 | Ignatius Insight
David Rooney's The Wine of Certitude is an in-depth overview of the life and literary accomplishments of Monsignor Ronald Knox (1888-1957), the famous Catholic convert and apologist from England who was a major figure in the English Catholic literary revival during the first half of the twentieth century. Carl E. Olson, editor of Ignatius Insight, recently interviewed Rooney about the book and Knox's place in the annals of Catholic literature.
Ignatius Insight: You admit in the Preface that you didn't begin reading Ronald Knox until you were well into your adult years. Which of his works did you read first, and what was it that you found so attractive and engaging about his writing?
David Rooney: Yes, I was a latecomer to his writings. I had been doing book reviews mainly in American and British Church history for some years, and then a reprint of his book A Retreat for Lay People was sent to me unsolicited. I decided to look into it, and I was immediately taken by Knox's acute discernment of the state of people's spiritual lives. He came across in that book—and as I subsequently found, in his other retreat books and compilations of sermons—as wise and compassionate, and particularly skilled at elevating a reader's mind to the presence of God in our lives.
Ignatius Insight: What are some of the unique challenges faced in writing a literary biography as opposed to writing a standard biography?