Michael Wood writes:
William Oddie’s book is a painstaking and intelligent study of the man who was not yet quite the Chesterton we have been looking at. This early life is a neglected area in Chesterton studies, Oddie tells us, and he found ‘existing biographies of little help’ – with the exception of Maisie Ward’s 1944 book. He is very good on the scientific and theological contexts of the time, and he takes us right to the threshold of Chesterton’s new/old encounter with England, or of his report on that encounter; tracing, as he says, ‘the process of intellectual discovery which comes to a fairly clear terminus ad quem in 1908 with Orthodoxy’. The bohemian Chesterton attends St Paul’s School, then the Slade School of Art and University College, London; becomes a journalist, writes poems, gets into many arguments, often with himself; writes books on Browning and Dickens, writes The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and pursues the religious controversies that lead him to Heretics and Orthodoxy. It’s worth remembering that even when fully declared, his faith at this time is very broadly Christian, a matter of the Incarnation and its consequences. He joined the Roman Church only in 1922.
(LRB 9 April 2009)
Oxford University Press | Hardback
412 pp. |ISBN: