In a recent edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education , Jay Parini argues the case for what many of us already know: G.K. Chesterton was a “major critic, biographer, and deep thinker of sharp wit.”
It has been over half a century since Maisie Ward’s major biography of G.K Chesterton (1874-1936) appeared in 1943. Since then, Chesterton has largely been a darling of Anglophiles, conservatives, and orthodox Roman Catholics, the sort of writer often invoked in the pages of the National Review. And oh, yes, read by mystery-story lovers everywhere for his Father Brown series.
More recently, however, he has begun to find a sympathetic audience in wider literary circles, as evidenced by G.K. Chesterton, Ian Ker’s detailed and compelling new biography from Oxford University Press, and a generous collection of his writings this year from Everyman’s Library, selected by Ker, a senior research fellow at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University. From my viewpoint, it’s time Chesterton was taken seriously as a major critic and biographer, a thinker of sharp wit and deep learning.
Although the essay is largely a positive and fitting tribute, Carl Olson at Ignatius Scoop explains what Parini gets wrong .