on 20 May 2012
This is an excellent biography of a fascinating figure. Full of absorbing detail, not just about the obvious relationships (eg Chesterton) but also the improbable ones: such as the time Henry James came to tea...
It makes me want to go and buy and read more Belloc, which I undoubtedly will, as he comes across as such a larger-than-life character; and not one that is easy to categorise.
on 22 March 2011
A solid introduction to the life of a remarkable man.
Belloc is neglected in our time because our failing culture does not know how to handle such a fearless man and communicator. They would prefer to ignore him. On the other hand, he is now beginning to be recognized as a "prophet for our times." He lived a very long life, from 1870 to 1953. He was a student of Blessed John Henry Newman, a friend of Winston Churchill, a Member of Parliament, and a novelist, poet, war historian, biographer, journalist, commentator, explorer, debater and BBC Radio commentator. Had he been born 10 years later no doubt he would have used television as a medium to get his messages out to the public.
Belloc was a man who wrote the cleanest limpid English, even admired by Ernest Hemingway, who clearly imitated him. He may be ignored in some places, but his fame is resurrecting. Look at how many of his books are still in print, some of them over 100 years old.He was also a man who knew how to love and love deeply, including his American wife whom he pursued from England over the Atlantic, making his way to California to ask her hand. For such an active man, Belloc was nonetheless a man both of vision and of contemplation. He was so often alone in his sailing, pilgrimages, travels and mountain climbing. He saw God and his works in everything and everywhere. He knew that it would always be a battle to defend the good things: "But if I be asked what sign we may look for to show that the advance of the faith is at hand I would answer by a word the modern world has forgotten: Persecution. When that shall once more be at work it will be morning."
At his funeral Mass, homilist Monsignor Ronald Knox observed, "No man of his time fought so hard for the good things."
on 23 March 2015
Belloc seems to be little remembered today except as a writer of comic verse. This biography shows how he was a foremost apologist for the Christian faith in the first half of the 20th century alongside his friend G K Chesterton. His Christianity though was decidedly Roman Catholic and he was influential in leading many of his friends, well known names, into that church. It was therefore amusing to read that he had a son who alienated from his father called an adopted child Martin Luther to irritate Belloc. Belloc's much loved wife died in her forties and he lost his eldest and youngest sons in the two World Wars so he was a man acquainted with grief. He was judged the finest orator of his day and had a huge and varied literary output. He said he only wrote because he needed the money but one of his passions was to retell English history without what he regarded as its innate Protestant bias. He was a larger than life character loving beer, wine, Sussex, his native France, travel and sailing, but above all his Church.