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Heretics Paperback – 11 Oct 2008

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: House of Stratus; New edition edition (11 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842329898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842329894
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 0.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,027,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

GK Chesterton was born in London in 1874 and educated at St Paul's School, before studying art at the Slade School. In 1896, he began working for the London publisher, Redway, and also T. Fisher Unwin as a reader where he remained until 1902. During this time he undertook his first freelance journalistic assignments writing art and literary reviews. He also contributed regular columns to two newspapers: the Speaker (along with his friend Hilaire Belloc) and the Daily News. Throughout his life he contibuted further articles to journals, particularly The Bookman and The Illustrated London News. His first two books were published; two poetry collections, in 1900. These were followed by collections of essays and in 1903 by his most substantial work to that point; a study of Robert Browning. Chesterton's first novel, 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill' was published in 1904. In this book he developed his political attitudes in which he attacked socialism, big business and technology and showed how they become the enemies of freedom and justice. These were themes which were to run throughout his other works. 'The Man who was Thursday' was published in 1908 and is perhaps the novel most difficult to understand, although it is also his most popular. 'The Ball and the Cross' followed in 1910 and 'Manalive' in 1912. Chesterton's best-known fictional character appears in the Father Brown stories, the first of the collection, 'The Innocence of Father Brown', being published in 1911. Brown is a modest Catholic priest who uses careful psychology to put himself in the place of the criminal in order to solve the crime. His output was prolific, with a great variety of books from brilliant studies of Dickens, Shaw, and RL Stevenson to literary criticism. He also produced more poetry and many volumes of political, social and religious essays. Tremendous zest and energy, with a mastery of paradox, puns, a robust humour and forthright devotion along with great intelligence characterise his entire output. In the years prior to 1914 his fame was at its height, being something of a celebrity and seen as a latter day Dr Johnson as he frequented the pubs and offices of Fleet Street. His huge figure was encased in a cloak and wide brimmed hat, with pockets full of papers and proofs. Chesterton came from a nominlly Anglican family and had been baptized into the Church of England. However, he had no particular Christian belief and was in fact agnostic for a time. Nevertheless, in his late


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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Billed by the publishers as `Chesterton's commentary on Christianity', actually Christianity is the one subject he doesn't directly tackle. What he does tackle, in a series of miscellaneous short articles, includes science, nationalism, neo-paganism, art, alcohol, and authors including Kipling, Wells and Shaw. The overall theme, so far as there is one, is that you cannot produce worthwhile art without having definite beliefs, whether religious, social or political: `when we want any art tolerably brisk and bold we go to the doctrinaires'. Looking at the poverty of today's very un-doctrinaire art, you have to feel he is on to something.

Of course, it would be true to say that the shadows cast by Chesterton's thoughts on these topics, put together, do make up a picture of his Christianity - a picture in negative.

For my part, in spite of the many clever and interesting ideas, a little of his prose style goes a long way. Though too facetious to be called sententious, there is no real lightness of touch. His is the deadly `humour' of the bachelor uncle trying to win over his nephews; not insincere, perhaps, but misapplied because he is unsure of his audience. His work is so larded with epigrams and paradoxes - like a rabbit in the headlights you feel them coming on, one after another - that it was described by TS Eliot as `exasperating to the last point of endurance'. Strangely, considering he claims to be extolling orthodoxy, Chesterton seems determined to find the unlikeliest-sounding opinion on every topic - in the same sort of way as the murderer in an Agatha Christie is always whichever character you would never (otherwise) have thought of.

Actually, though, he is not really extolling orthodoxy; not in the sense we usually understand it.
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C S Lewis thought a great deal of G K Chesterton, and was greatly influenced by him as you can understand when you read this book. GKC had the same skill as CS Lewis of putting deep truths in simple and readable language. When you have read this short book you will want to get Chesterton's (nearly) complete works in paperback from Amazon. This latter book includes his novels but not the title being reveiwed.
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The star rating does not apply to the contents, which are a thoughtful and insightful read, well worthwhile if you are interested in literary and religious reflection. I hate to drag GK's rating down, but he's big enough to take it; my low score is for the production of this edition, which is abysmal. It is obviously scanned and printed to order. There are one or two lines with two words in them stretched apart and a long empty white space between. But worst of all, the title pages of each essay, which have about half a page of text below the title, have been centred on the page instead of aligned to the bottom, which means that the text ends about six or eight lines above where it should, with a huge block of empty white below. Maybe this doesn't bother some people, but it shows contempt for the reader and for the craft of book production. I note on the back page it says "printed by Amazon", so perhaps the publisher's name is just a front for the cheap churning out of scanned out-of-copyright books cutting out the middle man, i.e. a real publisher.
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