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Paperback Knox Brothers Book

ISBN: 1582431639

ISBN13: 9781582431635

Knox Brothers

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Book Overview

A biography of the four very different sons of the Evangelical Bishop of Manchester. Ronald Knox was the translator of the Bible and a Catholic priest, Eddie was the editor of Punch, Dillwyn worked as a cryptographer and Wilfred became an Anglo-Catholic priest and active welfare worker.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

A warm and witty window on the last century.

Why read biographies? Several reasons come to mind: to get a glimpse of a vanished past, to live vicariously through glamorous and interesting people, to learn truths about the good life that survive those vanished pasts and apply to even the unglamorous.All of these apply in spades to _The Knox Brothers_, novelist Penelope Fitzgerald's 1977 biography of her father, Edmund ("Evoe") Knox and his brothers, Ronald, Wilfred and Dilly.The most famous of the Knox brothers today is Ronald, a famous British convert to and apologist for Catholicism. His conversion is well-detailed by Fitzgerald, along with the strife it caused within the family: his father was an Anglican bishop, and remained essentially unreconciled to his convert son, and his brother Wilfred also became an Anglican clergyman. Evoe, who also achieved great fame as editor of the humor magazine Punch, was an indulgent agnostic, but Dilly was rigorously atheistic.Despite such differences, mutual love and respect prevailed among the brothers, and as Fitzgerald writes, "one would think it must have been as clear then as it is now that if human love could rise above the doctrines that divide the Church, then these docrines must have singularly little to do with the love of God." The humane perspective that would later distinguish her novels is on ample display in this biography, as is her wry humor.Perhaps most fascinating and unusual of the four brothers was Dilly, who served in both world wars as a codebreaker, and played an instrumental role in cracking the German Enigma machine during World War II. Fitzgerald describes his work in generous detail, and places it in the context of the family's general fascination with language and wordplay.I highly recommend this biography, which like the lives of its subjects is briskly paced and rich in variety. One caveat: if you have no place in your heart for Anglophilia, you may find the personalities of Fleet Street and Oxbridge rather tiresome.

A Beautiful Tribute

Penelope Fitzgerald produced some of the finest short novels written. Before she started her career as a novelist she wrote these collected biographies of her father and his 3 brothers in 1977. It seems appropriate that this collection of familial histories was updated and placed in its final form by Ms. Fitzgerald shortly before her death.For those that believe Genetics play a role in the hereditary talent of later generations, this book certainly will reinforce that view. Whether when reviewing her Father's life, or that of his 3 brothers, all these men were exceptional in there own manner. There were characteristics they held in common; amongst them were brilliant wits, and integrity. The latter trait would seem redundant, or perhaps should be one we hope someday will be for all men like her Uncle Wilfred and her Uncle Ronald. Both of these men were Priests, but even here these Brothers maintained their own identities. Wilfred was an Anglo-Catholic Priest, and his Brother was a Priest of The Roman Catholic Church. The History of these men's lives are all of great interest, however the differences in the Religious Denominations, at first so similar to the ear, and then so different theologically, provided some of the more interesting aspects of the book.Father Ronald went beyond the normal duties of his calling, and expanded his talents not only into journalism, but I believe rather specially as an Author of Detective Novels. All this was in addition to being The Chaplain At Oxford, and a man who translated a revised form of The New Testament, so that so many more could enjoy the writings.For readers familiar with World War II, the word Enigma has a meaning in excess of the dictionary definition. Enigma was the machine that the Germans used for enciphering their communications, had it remained a secret, the War if nothing else would have been lengthened, perhaps dramatically. Uncle Dillwyn was repeatedly promoted and was critical to "finding a way in" to Enigma, and was credited with contributing to several strategic victories that without the understanding of Enigma could not have taken place.Her Father was again a man of many gifts, but it is his time as Editor of the legendary "Punch Magazine" that seemed to best define the man's many traits. He too was a writer, journalist, humorist, and devoted Husband and Father. He may or may not have foreseen that a short 6 years after his death his Daughter Penelope would begin her own literary career with a book that paid tribute to he and his brothers.Ms. Fitzgerald does honor to the memories of her family members without appearing to lose objectivity, and succumbing to fawning over her subjects. If you have read her books, or the interviews she gave none of this will come as a surprise. She was a woman of great talent, minimal ego, and she happily, for readers, shared all her gifts.

Four Unforgetable Brothers

Penelope Fitzgerald's father was Edmund Knox, first son of an Anglican bishop. Edmund became editor of Punch. His next youngest brother was Dillwyn, who played a major role in the British cracking of the Nazi Enigma code. The next brother was Wilfred, an Anglo-Catholic author and social worker who never told a lie. The youngest was Msgr. Ronald Knox, who converted to Catholicism and single-handedly translated the New Testament from original sources. The wonder of the story is not only that all four brothers were so great, but also that Ms. Fitzgerald can write the four disparate stories so gloriously. She seems to know as much about Oxford faculty politics as the working of the German code machine. I'll end with two cliches: (1) I couldn't put it down, and (2) I was sad when it ended.
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