JOHN WESLEY AND HIS WORLD by John Pudney

JOHN WESLEY AND HIS WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A trim, efficient biography, copiously illustrated, of the founder of Methodism. Wesley lived through most of the 18th century (1703-91), and spent the last 50 years of his life evangelizing England on a heroic scale never seen before or since. He traveled some 250,000 miles and gave perhaps 40,000 sermons. His work had a revolutionary impact on the history of Christianity, and modern Protestantism would be unthinkable without him. Still, Wesley's creativity seems to have been almost completely absorbed by his extraordinary career as a prophet and religious innovator: his private life, by contrast, was a terribly dull show, and Pudney is hard put to extract much narrative interest from it. He makes the most of Wesley's abortive romance with Sophy Hopkey (Georgia, 1736), the equally fruitless infatuation with Grace Murray (Newcastle, 1748), and the disastrous marriage with Mary Vazeille in 1751. The redoubtable Mrs. Wesley was given to hysterical jealousy, and on at least one occasion beat her husband up and dragged him around the floor by the hair of his head. The fact is that Wesley, except when he preached, was a passive character. The most dramatic event of his life was his rescue, at age five, from the fire which destroyed his father's rectory. Still, he lived and played an important part in a remarkable era of British history--an era that Pudney skillfully evokes with contemporary portraits, sketches, and, best of all, drawings by Hogarth.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Scribners