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Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy

On the publication of Orthodoxy in 1908, Wilfrid Ward hailed G. K. Chesterton as a prophetic figure whose thought was to be classed with that Burke, Butler, Coleridge, and John Henry Newman. When Chesterton died in 1936, T. S. Eliot pronounced that 'Chesterton's social and economic ideas were the ideas for his time that were fundamentally Christian and Catholic'. But how did he come by these ideas? Eliot noted that he attached 'significance also to his development, to his beginnings as well as to his ends, and to the movement from one to the other'. It is on that development that this book is focused. Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy is an exploration of G.K. Chesterton's imaginative and spiritual development, from his early childhood in the 1870s to his intellectual maturity in the first decade of the twentieth century. William Oddie draws extensively on Chesterton's unpublished letters and notebooks, his journalism, and his early classic writings, to reveal the writer in his own words. In the first major study of Chesterton to draw on this source material, Oddie charts the progression of Chesterton's ideas from his first story (composed at the age of three and dictated to his aunt Rose) to his apologetic masterpiece Orthodoxy, in which he openly established the intellectual foundations on which the prolific writing of his last three decades would build. Part One explores the years of Chesterton's obscurity; his childhood, his adolescence, his years as a student and a young adult. Part Two examines Chesterton's emergence on to the public stage, his success as one of the leading journalists of his day, and his growing renown as a man of letters. Written to engage all with an interest in Chesterton's life and times, Oddie's accessible style ably conveys the warmth and subtlety of thought that delighted the first readership of the enigmatic GKC.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction ; PART ONE ; 1. The Man with the Golden Key, 1874-1883 ; 2. School Days: St Paul's and the JDC, 1883-1892 ; 3. Nightmare at the Slade: Digging for the Sunrise of Wonder, 1892-1894 ; 4. Beginning the Journey Round the World, 1894-1899 ; PART TWO ; 5. Who is GKC? 1900-1902 ; 6. The Man of Letters as Defender of the Faith, 1903-1904: Robert Browning; Blatchford I; The Napoleon of Notting Hill ; 7. The Critic as Polemicist, 1904-1906: G. F. Watts; Blatchford II; Heretics; The Ball and the Cross; Charles Dickens ; 8. Battles in the Last Crusade, 1907-1908: The Man Who Was Thursday and Orthodoxy ; Epilogue ; Bibliography

About the Author

Dr William Oddie is a former editor of The Catholic Herald and author of a number of books on literary and theological themes.


The book has been thoroughly researched and makes good use of Chesterton's published writings... This study will not only advance our understanding of this important writerbut deepen our appreciation of the era in which Chesterton won his spurs. This book should take its place as one of the best insights into the intellectual ferment of modern England. * James Munson, Contemporary Review * This is a landmark study... Oddie's book marks a significant breakthrough in Chestertonscholarship... In the Epilogue, Oddie makes a powerful case for Chesterton's contemporary relevance as a prophet against the 'profound disenchantment' with humanity that underscores much twentieth-century literature and thought and the 'modernist' movements of Chesterton's time on which they leant. Historians should read the book for its depth of understanding of those movements, as well as the reaction they called forth in G.K. Chesterton. * Julia Stapleton, Twentieth Century British History * highly readable... Oddie's biography is entertaining and scholarly, and the hero is very much Chesterton, pushing himself to the fore * Brian Murdoch, Literature and Theology *

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