Friday, August 07, 2009

Geir Hasnes

Our keynote address last night was presented by Norwegian Geir Hasnes. Hasnes is the meticulous biographer of G.K. Chesterton's. He very clearly loves this man, calling him "my Chesterton" with true feeling. Hasnes has spoken at several of the last few conferences, and never fails to amaze us with his trifles about Chesterton. One quite memorable speech proved methodically that Chesterton was not fat. I believe this will go down in history. And the subject came up again this year, as Hasnes related some interesting facts about Chesterton's 1921 American Lecture Tour.

Hasnes stated that the lectures were sold out repeatedly, and dates had to be added to accommodate the huge numbers of people who wanted to hear Chesterton. However, in researching this phenomenon, Hasnes discovered that many of these people not only longed to hear Chesterton, but also to see him. Apparently, word of his great girth had created a culture of curiosity amongst the American people, and they wanted to see if Chesterton was as fat as people said. Hasnes related their disappointment at his lack of gigantic proportions, proving, once again, Chesterton wasn't that fat.

In addition to the amazing trifles about the American lecture tour, Hasnes proceeded to lay waste to several other myths about Chesterton. One of these myths is that Chesterton wasn't published or recognized for his writing prior to the prize he won at school for the poem about St. Francis Xavier. Hasnes has found at least 15 occasions where Chesterton was published in school publications.

A second trifle Hasnes unearthed were the books that Chesterton ghost wrote prior to his first book publication. One of these books was titled: Roman Life Under the Cesaers by Emile Thomas.

A third trifle was that Hasnes was able to dispel the myth that Chesterton's fame waned in the later years after his conversion in 1922. This was simply not true. He was written up in Vanity Fair, and international publication, in 1923 as one of the most interesting people in the world.

There is more, but you'll have to read the Gilbert report, so stay tuned. Also, Geir informs me that this information is incomplete. Well, yes, it is because I don't know shorthand ;-) But for more, please see Gilbert, the Oct/Nov issue when it comes out will be all about the conference.


  1. I can't wait to hear more about it. Thanks for the updates.

  2. So when will the More Than Complete Collected Works edition be released?

    And did anyone laugh?

  3. There was much laughter during Geir's talk, yes. And after listening to him, we all realize the Complete Works is far from Complete, but that if we support Ignatius Press, they will continue to put out volumes.

  4. This is my 3rd consecutive Conference. At the previous two, Gier has managed to bring a tear to my eye with his presentations. After this year’s presentation however, I thought I had escaped with dry eyes. Right until the final banquet toast when Gier mentioned Aidan Mackey --Then…

    Hasnes, Gier
    Spoke, initially, without a tear.
    But when he toasted an English bloke,
    I heard his voice, it clearly broke!

    With my apologies to this year's Clerihew contest winners.

    Gier Hasnes
    About Chesterton he does obsess.
    The stories of his quests are legion.
    What else would you expect of the world’s greatest living Norwegian?

  5. Thanks, Bob.

    I feel that Aidan should always be mentioned whenever Chestertonians are together. He was the one carrying the torch in the 50s, 60s and 70s before the society was founded, and he is clearly a saint although still living.


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