Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Just finished

I just finished reading William Oddie's biography of Chesterton, and it is fantastic. Taken together with Joseph Pearce's book, Maisie Ward's book, and if you want to be totally well rounded, several others (Ada Chesterton's, Father O'Connors, Michael Ffinch's, Clemens's, etc.) it provides a new and wider-ranging view of the spiritual development of Chesterton's, well, spirit. The reason it is wider ranging is because Oddie had access to more papers and notebooks than previous biographers.

The subtitle is "The Making of GKC 1874-1908", and that covers birth through Orthodoxy's publication, and, as Oddie states near the end, Chesterton's spiritual growth peaked with Orthodoxy and he never strayed after that in any other directions.

I'm going to be discussing the book here, and on the podcast, because there were so many insights worth talking about and thinking about, my mind is just happily processing it all.


  1. It looks intimidatingly bulky....is it one of these biographies that gives the menu for every dinner party he ever attended? Like Roy Foster's gargantuan two-volume biography of Yeats....

  2. Yes, I thought it might be too and avoided it for at least six months. But when I finally had time to read it, I found it easy to read, engaging, thoughtful, insightful, and anything but dull. No menus. This is a study, basically, of Chesterton's spiritual development. It contains biographical information to aid in the telling of the story, but never gets bogged down in the details of daily life. The main story is Chesterton's mental development, his emotional development, and all as it pertains to his spiritual development. How did he get from a house that raised him as a liberal Unitarian Universalist, to pass through a time of basic agnosticism, to a trek into the valley of satanism, and out into the world of orthodoxy? That is the story, and it is really quite a story.
    If you've got the time, read it. Ask your library to purchase it.

  3. Thanks! I'm sure I'll get round to reading it before too long. I'm glad it concentrates on the inner rather than the outer life.


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