Paul Johnson

Born to Believe

Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy: The Making of GKC, 1874–1908

By

Oxford University Press 401pp £25 order from our bookshop

G K Chesterton was born in 1874, the same year as Winston Churchill, Somerset Maugham and Chaim Weizmann. It was a good vintage, which also included celebrated ‘moderns’ such as Gertrude Stein, Robert Frost, Arnold Schoenberg and Gustav Holst. But Chesterton and Churchill were the only two who combined a deadly serious purpose with an outstanding sense of humour, liable to burst out at all times. They also shared an unmistakably jovial appearance and delighted the cartoonists, though each had, when required, a tremendously sober face, Churchill’s expressing dogged determination to defend Britain, Chesterton’s a growly transcendental faith in Christianity. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,