G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton : A Biography

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G. K. Chesterton is remembered as a brilliant creator of nonsense and satirical verse, author of the Father Brown stories and the innovative novel, The Man who was Thursday, and yet today he is not counted among the major English novelists and poets. However, this major new biography argues that Chesterton should be seen as the successor of the great Victorian prose writers, Carlyle, Arnold, Ruskin, and above all Newman. Chesterton's achievement as one of the great English literary critics has not hitherto been fully recognized, perhaps because his best literary criticism is of prose rather than poetry. Ian Ker remedies this neglect, paying particular attention to Chesterton's writings on the Victorians, especially Dickens. As a social and political thinker, Chesterton is contrasted here with contemporary intellectuals like Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells in his championing of democracy and the masses. Pre-eminently a controversialist, as revealed in his prolific journalistic output, he became a formidable apologist for Christianity and Catholicism, as well as a powerful satirist of anti-Catholicism. This full-length life of G. K. Chesterton is the first comprehensive biography of both the man and the writer. It draws on many unpublished letters and papers to evoke Chesterton's joyful humour, his humility and affinity to the common man, and his love of the ordinary things of life.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 784 pages
  • 160 x 236 x 50mm | 1,319.95g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 17 black and white images
  • 0199601283
  • 9780199601288
  • 177,951

Review quote

Ian Kers magisterial new biographical of Chesterton will now do for Chesterton what his definitive biography of Newman did for hima major literary achievement. Nobody who has any interest in Chesterton can afford to be without Ian Kers book. William Oddie, The Catholic Herald This masterly biographyhas the potential to help establish Chesterton in what Ker regards as his rightful place as a major English author. Susan Elkin, The Independent on Sunday Ian Kers tremendous biography is an incitement to read Chesterton afresh[it] confirms him as a great thinker. Christopher Howse, The Tablet A discriminating portrait that does welcome justice to the full richness of [Chestertons] hitherto undervalued work the need for a proper critical biography has long been acknowledged and Ker has supplied it for any true understanding of the scope of Chestertons achievement Kers biography will be indispensable. Edward Short, The Weekly Standard A brilliant towering biography Gary Day, The Times Higher Educational Supplement Chesterton finally gets the big book he deservesa monumental study Gerald J. Russello, The National Catholic Register Heroically researched. An impressive book that conveys a powerful sense of [Chestertons] personality DJ Taylor, The Independent magisterial. a splendid book James E. Person Jr., Touchstone this full-length scholarly biography will be indispensable for decades Richard Harries, The Church Times Professor Ker's spirited and double-barreled attempt at a rehabilitation of his cherished subject is enjoyable in its own right, and takes in such matters as Chesterton's dialectical genius for paradox, the authority of the Father Brown stories in the detective genre, and the salience of Charles Dickens in the English canonical one Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic [This] terrific new biography... gives us a portrait of the man in the full... Any biography of this size is bound to have some elements of dry, encyclopedic chronology; but in Ker's book, they are far more the exception than the rule. On just about every page, one will find extended quotes from Chesterton, of the kind that display his personality and overall joie de vivre. The author made me rediscover my early love of Chesterton and his perspective on the world, and for that I am deeply grateful Michael Potemra, National Review Online Superb...absorbing Piers Paul Read, Standpoint Handles a complex subject with admirable lucidity. Mastering Chesterton's output is a heroic feat in itself Peter Washington, Literary Review There are many fine things in Kers biography. Surely the best is found in his constant stress on the link between the comic and the serious in Chesterton. Ralph C Wood, Seven This is a brilliant biography for a brilliant man. Times Higher Education magisterial Matthew D'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph this magnificent book Catholic Times superb...absorbing Piers Paul Read, Standpoint rewarding biography Tribune Ian Ker provides an account of the thought of Chesterton that surpasses, in its comprehensiveness, anything that has been previously written about him Bernard Manzo, Times Literary Supplement [A] masterful biography. Ker... has now become the most important source we have for understanding the master of paradox [Chesterton]... Ker's biography is essential, a labor of love to be sure America Handles a complex subject with admirable lucidity. Mastering Chesterton's output is a heroic feat in itself Peter Washington, Literary Review reveals valuable new information The Times [this] biography ... will help make the case that Chesterton is bigger than the keepers of culture have allowed National Review detailed and compelling Chronicle of Higher Education magnificent Irish Catholic spirited and ... enjoyable The Atlantic No-one can fail to extract the literary pleasure from page after page of absorbing new life this comprehensive survey will hold the field for many years. Lord Longford, Financial Times A big man, physically and intellectually, British Catholic author Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) finally gets the big book he deserves... a monumental study National Catholic Register ... comprehensive biography ... The Lutheran

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About Ian Ker

Ian Ker has taught both English literature and theology in universities in the United States and Britain, where he currently teaches in the theology faculty. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books on Newman, including John Henry Newman: A Biography (1988), as well as the author of The Catholic Revival in English Literature, 1845-1961 (2003).

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Table of contents

1. The Early Years ; 2. Publishing and Engagement ; 3. Marriage and Fame ; 4. Controversy ; 5. Dickens ; 6. Orthodoxy ; 7. Shaw and Beaconsfield ; 8. Father Brown and the Marconi Scandal ; 9. The Victorian Compromise and Illness ; 10. War and Travel ; 11. America and Conversation ; 12. The Everlasting Man ; 13. Distributism and Apologetics ; 14. Rome and America Again ; 15. The Last Years

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