What Every Catholic Should Know

Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know is an insightful introduction to the world’s rich depository of stories. It directs the reader back to the Story—the story of salvation history—because that is what great literature does. Great literature directs us back to the Storyteller, God himself. Allow Joseph Pearce to be your joyful guide on this brief pilgrimage, as you visit Dante’s Italy, Cervantes’s Spain, Dostoyevsky’s Russia, and Jane Austen’s England along the way.

About the Book

In Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know, Joseph Pearce provides a survey of literary works of which all Catholics should be aware. Beginning with Homer and Virgil, the book progresses chronologically through the greatest works of all time, including Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dickens, Chesterton, Eliot, Tolkien, and Lewis.


Series Summary

The new What Every Catholic Should Know series is intended for the average faithful Catholic who wants to know more about Catholic faith and culture. The authors in this series take a panoramic approach to the topic of each book aimed at a non-specialist but enthusiastic readership. Forthcoming titles planned for this series include: literature, salvation, mercy, history, art, music, and philosophy.


Joseph Pearce

A native of London, Joseph Pearce was involved in radical politics until he experienced a profound spiritual conversion that ultimately led to his entering the Catholic Church. Pearce is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer who is best known for his writings on modern Christian literary figures, especially J. R. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. He is Director of Book Publishing at the Augustine Institute and editor of the St. Austin Review.


I will recommend Pearce’s compelling new study to every student whom I teach.

—Jonathan Thorndike, PhD

Professor and Senior Fellow, Belmont University Honors Program


This book is an invaluable resource.

—David Lyle Jeffrey, FRSC

Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities, Baylor University


I love this book because there s not a hint of ‘Eat your spinach’ about it. Pearce’s reading program is pure pleasure. It can make the world a happier place.

—Mike Aquilina

Author, A History of the Church in 100 Objects


This is eloquent, keenly reasoned, aptly documented, and indisputably cogent book that belongs in every undergraduate library and that should be required reading by every student who goes to these classics for enlightenment and enchantment.

—Philip C. Kolin

Distinguished Professor of English (Emeritus), University of Southern Mississippi


This book is a treat for the novice and the lover of Great Books alike, and a humanizing call for Catholics to draw on all the rich and ample resources of our Western literary tradition.

—Daniel J. Mahoney

Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship, Assumption College


Learned and accessible, witty and wise, this volume should be a required textbook for every Catholic high school and college student and a must read for all who wish to mine the depths of truly Catholic culture.

—Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Author of The Romance of Religion: Fighting for Goodness, Truth, and Beauty


With his charming wit and wide-ranging knowledge, Joseph Pearce expertly guides the reader on a fascinating tour of the world s great literary works of art.

—Stephen Mirarchi, PhD

Assistant Professor of English, Benedictine College


Joseph Pearce’s introduction to literature will be immediately valuable to homeschoolers and college freshmen, but also to the general reader who knows it is as important to know how to read as it is to know what to read.

—Dutton Kearney, PhD

Associate Professor of English, Hillsdale College, Editor of the Ignatius Critical Edition of Gulliver’s Travels


More than any contemporary I can call to mind, Joseph Pearce has made it his life’s work to revive classics of the English tradition that most English-speaking Catholics have never known to read. This book has added many titles to my reading list.

—Glenn C. Arbery, PhD

President, Wyoming Catholic College