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This novel about a young man's intellectual and spiritual development was the first work John Henry Newman wrote after entering the Roman Catholic Church in 1845. The story describes the perplexing questions and doubts Charles Reding experiences while attending Oxford. Though intending to avoid the religious controversies that are being heatedly debated at the university, Reding ends up leaving the Church of England and becoming a Catholic. A former Anglican clergyman who was later named a Catholic cardinal, Newman wrote this autobiographical novel to illustrate his own reasons for embracing Catholicism.