The Regenerators: Social Criticism in Late Victorian English Canada by Ramsay CookThe Regenerators: Social Criticism in Late Victorian English Canada by Ramsay Cook

The Regenerators: Social Criticism in Late Victorian English Canada

byRamsay Cook

Paperback | November 1, 1985

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A crisis of faith confronted many Canadian Protestants in the late nineteenth century. Their religious beliefs were challenged by the new biological sciences and by historical criticism of the Bible. Personal salvation, for centuries the central concern of Christianity, no longer seemed an adequate focus in an age that gave rise to industrial cities and grave social problems.

No single word, Cook claims, catches more correctly the spirit of the late Victorian reform movement than 'regeneration': a concept originall meaning rebirth and applied to individuals, now increasingly used to describe social salvation.

In exploring the nature of social criticism and its complex ties to the religious thinking of the day, Cook analyses the thought of an extraordinary cast of characters who presented a bewildering array of nostrums and beliefs, from evolutionists, rationalists, higher critcis, and free-thinkers, to feminists, spiritualists, theosophists, socialists, communists, single-taxers, adn many more. THere is Goldwin Smith, 'the sceptic who needed God,' spreading gloom and doom from the comfort of the Grange; W.D. LeSueur, the 'positvist in the Post Office'; the heresiarch Dr R.M. Bucke, overdosed on Whitman, with his message of 'cosmis consciousness'; and a free-thinking, high-rolling bee-keeper named Allen Pringle, whose perorations led to 'hot, exciting nights in Napanee.' It is a world of such diverse figures as Phillips Thompson, Floar MacDonald Denison, Agnes Machar, J.W. Bengough, and J.S. Woodsworth, a world that made Mackenzie King.

Cook concludes that the path blazed by nineteenth-century religious liberals led not to the Kingdom of God on earth, as many had hoped, but, ironically, to the secular city.

Ramsay Cook is a professor emeritus in the Department of History at York University and the former general editor of The Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
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Title:The Regenerators: Social Criticism in Late Victorian English CanadaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:290 pages, 9.04 × 6.08 × 0.82 inPublished:November 1, 1985Publisher:University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802066097

ISBN - 13:9780802066091

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From Our Editors

This winner of the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction is an insightful example of scholarly writing that is both illuminating and delightful. The Regenerators: Social Criticism in Late Victorian English Canada is an exploration of the nature of social criticism in a time when faith confronted a crisis within the dichotomy of industrial science and religion. Ramsay Cook analyses the thoughts of an extraordinary cast of characters, from evolutionists to rationalists, free thinkers, feminists, spiritualists, socialists, communists and many more, in this fascinating presentation of a bewildering array of 19th century festering beliefs.

Editorial Reviews

'The Regenerators fascinated me from beginning to end.' - Ken Gerecke, City Magazine