Friday, June 16, 2006

The Bibliographer of Chesterton's Work

You never could believe what a great talk someone could give about doing a bibliography of Chesterton's work. But Geir Hasnes has been working on this project for 21 years. He works like a detective, trying to collect every know piece of writing Chesterton ever wrote, as well as collecting the illustrations, sayings, post cards, pamphlets, speeches, debates, and even the movie that J.M.Barrie convinced Chesterton to act in (the movie, which was only a 10 minute silent film, is lost; but there are still pictures from it).

Hasnes told us that for the 30 years of Chesterton's writing life, from being hired to his death, he published what would be the equivalent of 3 works a week. That's between all of the books, essays, dust jackets, introductions and everything.

If one could estimate the number of words Chesterton wrote, Hasnes said between 20-30 million. And, Hasnes states, Chesterton rarely repeated himself, so everything he wrote is fresh and new.

Hasnes made the point that a Chesterton book is not a material possession like Da Vinci Code that you read once and throw away, but it is something you will read again and again, always finding something new and interesting in it. I liked that idea, naturally!

I found Geir here, he published a "lost" Father Brown mystery, The Mask of Midas here, and after having talked about Chesterton and fascinated his audience, and keeping us in stitches with his jokes told with a thick Norweigen accent, he was surprised by Dale Ahlquist, who presented him with a Chesterton Lifetime Achievement award and statuette. Geir was so touched by this that he broke down in tears (causing me to cry) and could not say much more than a very humble "Thank You." He is a truly dedicated and wonderful person.


  1. That sounds like it was wonderful, Nancy.

    And I would give whole worlds even to see those pictures from the movie, minute though they almost certainly are.

  2. Geir did not show them to us, I don't know where he found them. I hope that one day, all of this information that he has will be in a book and then we can buy it.

  3. I talked to Dale this morning, and Geir is still in St. Paul, doing research at the University of St. Thomas. He found some of Chesterton's writing in their library he did not know existed.

    Imagine that: previously unknown writing by Chesterton, right on the very campus where we hold the annual conference, found because this year Dale happened to invite the world's formost "detective" of Chesterton's work, who of course immediately went hunting in the university's library.

    Way cool!!


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