G K Chesterton
St Francis of Assisi
Continuum, London, 2001, £9.99
(price at publication of review)
Reviewed May 2002; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2002
The 1920s saw a flowering of Franciscan enthusiasm which included much biographical activity, Father Mackay’s book of sermons in All Saints’ Margaret Street (dedicated to the choirboys), the heroism of BSFA at Hilfield and up and down the country, culminating in the celebration of the septcentenary in 1926 of the saint’s death. Chesterton’s essay on Francis first appeared in 1924, and is here re-issued in hardback. Europe was still in shock from the war, and Chesterton was an opinionated, informed philosopher and journalist – a man of letters in the best sense, and a convert to the Roman Catholic Church.
He was not a scholar, so his opinions shine from every page. The reader is rewarded with many fresh perspectives on Francis as perceived in that world into which SSF was born, expressed by a supremely warm-hearted and literate human being.
A timely re-issue – but 1924 is a long time ago, long enough ago to make an introduction to Chesterton and his times essential for the younger reader. Remove the dust cover with its sketchy blurb, and you are left with none.
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