Monday, January 17, 2011

Defiant Joy

G.K. Chesterton was a famous and very skilled English literary critic. So I find it a little intimidating to critique a biography of a literary critic.

Kevin Belmonte's book, "Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K. Chesterton" was about two parts biography to eight parts AP English Literature. It tells of the life of Chesterton through the lens of his own writing - which was extensive. I am familiar with Chesterton only through his wonderful quotes (one of which I've had on my blog for years!) and his book "The Man Who Was Thursday" (which I admit was very hard for me to understand), so perhaps I don't have the intellectual experience to fully appreciate this type of biography. I would have preferred a more narrative style. I definitely had to put on my thinking cap along with my reading glasses.

The book did inspire me to read more of Chesterton, though, and I think reviewing literature with the help of Chesterton would be one of the best ways to study English Literature from a Christian worldview. I hope to do such a study with my boys in a few years, so this volume will definitely come in handy.

I'm also inspired by Chesterton's modesty and charity toward those who disagreed with him. What's the point of having a good argument if your style means no one will listen? So here is one of my favorite quotes about Chesterton from this book:

"Chesterton was one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed; he was deep because he was right; and he could not help being right; but he could not either help being modest and charitable, so he left it to those who could understand him to know that he was right, and deep; to the others, he apologized for being right, and he made up for being deep by being witty."

I know I can never be a deep thinker like Chesterton, and it is likely I will never be as witty, but by God's grace, I hope to be modest and charitable. That will have to do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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