Item description for Saint Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton...
Overview Traces the life of St. Francis and relates how the pervasive faith of medieval times influenced his devotion to God and the religious life. Reprint.
Publishers Description Francis of Assisi is, after Mary of Nazareth, the greatest saint in the Christian calendar, and one of the most influential men in the whole of human history. By universal acclaim, this biography by G. K. Chesterton is considered the best appreciation of Francis's life--the one that gets to the heart of the matter.
For Chesterton, Francis is a great paradoxical figure, a man who loved women but vowed himself to chastity; an artist who loved the pleasures of the natural world as few have loved them, but vowed himself to the most austere poverty, stripping himself naked in the public square so all could see that he had renounced his worldly goods; a clown who stood on his head in order to see the world aright. Chesterton gives us Francis in his world-the riotously colorful world of the High Middle Ages, a world with more pageantry and romance than we have seen before or since. Here is the Francis who tried to end the Crusades by talking to the Saracens, and who interceded with the emperor on behalf of the birds. Here is the Francis who inspired a revolution in art that began with Giotto and a revolution in poetry that began with Dante. Here is the Francis who prayed and danced with pagan abandon, who talked to animals, who invented the creche.
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was an English journalist, theologian, philosopher, playwright, mystery writer, and more. Among his many great works are Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Everlasting Man, and Orthodoxy.
Citations And Professional Reviews Saint Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Commonweal - 10/26/2001 page 25
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More About G. K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesteron was born in 1874. He attended the Slade School of Art, where he appears to have suffered a nervous breakdown, before turning his hand to journalism. A prolific writer throughout his life, his best-known books include The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), The Man Who Knew Too Much(1922), The Man Who Was Thursday (1908) and the Father Brown stories. Chesterton converted to Roman Catholicism in 1922 and died in 1938. Michael D. Hurley is a Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St Catharine's College. He has written widely on English literature from the nineteenth century to the present day, with an emphasis on poetry and poetics. His book on G. K. Chesterton was published in 2011.
G. K. Chesterton lived in London. G. K. Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936.
G. K. Chesterton has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Saint Francis of Assisi?
Saint Francis of Assisi: A life to follow Jun 7, 2008
Chesterton surprise us again with this formidable short essay about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi. This is not the typical hagiography, but an inside look to the vivid facts that made us understand the true meaning of charity, fraternity and solidarity through love.
Metaphysics blown across from Asia Mar 2, 2008
Approaching this little book about a pillar of Catholicism with a sceptical interest in the historical aspects of the man St.F., one gets properly looked down upon by recent convert GKC. Orwell called Chesterton, his contemporary, a 'Catholic nationalist', i.e. not an English nationalist who was also Catholic. 'Chesterton was a writer of considerable talent who chose to suppress both his sensibilities and his intellectual honesty in the cause of Roman Catholic propaganda.' That seems to be about it, sorry Jim Egolf, here for once I disagree with your assessment of 'a gentleman who writes about a gentleman'. GKC wrote this in the 20s of the 20th, shortly after converting. The book is neither 'scientific' history, nor does it make an attempt at telling me what I would like to know about St.F. In that sense it is a disappointment. In other regards, it is worth reading. Like for his style, even if it gets annoying once in a while. He did love his pirouettes and his mannerisms. Watch this one, in the opening para: 'A sketch of St.F. ... may be written in one of three ways. ... the third way, which is adopted here, is in some respects the most difficult of all. At least, it would be the most difficult if the other two were not impossible.' Well, we all need our little vanities. Worse are the arrogant asides against members of other 'nations' than his newly found Catholic tribe. Paraphrases: The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. In mediaevel times, nobody would have tolerated a Schopenhauer scorning life or a Nietzsche living only for scorn. A heresy had developed around a prophet named Mahomet. Mad metaphysics blown across out of Asia. Or a rough summary of his theory about the spread of Christianity: it was needed because the ancient people, the pagans, were subverted by sexual perversity, specifically homosexuality in the case of the Greeks. (He did not even spell this out, but resorted to allusions, because the subject might be too offensive, I assume...) Enough, I think.
A Gentleman Writing About Another Compassionate Gentleman Nov 24, 2007
G.K. Chesterton's titled ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI demonstrated once again Chesterton's charm, polite criticism, wit, and logic. Chesterton also showed that he had actual insight to St. Francis'mission and thinking. Chesterton also realized that modern misinterpretations had to be corrected to give readers a clearer understanding of a man who was complex, apparently mad, and had a passion for creation and the Creator.
Chesterton began this book with a brief explanation of the political situation in Italy whereby small politics vied for power and land. St. Francis was part of this environment and began his younger days as a soldier. In one encounter, St. Francis was captured involving Assisi and another city-state in which St. Francis was captured. This was not what St. Francis expected or wanted. This event led to dispair and depression which Chesterton said changed St. Francis from an Italian citizen and soldier to a saint. Chesterton wrote that the man who emerged from such depression and dispair emerged from this experience as a far different man. Chesterton gives a good analysis of Medieval war in Italy. Men fought for their homes, loved ones, their shrines, and their rulers with whom they were much more familiar than modern mass and mindless democracy. Chesterton accurately contrasts Medieval Italian wars with modern war which is based on false media lying, government propaganda,and vague useless slogans for war in remote areas far from family and homes. Chesterton wrote that St. Francis could be a soldier and still love people. Chesterton explains this paradox by commenting that men could do so because they knew what they were fighting for and could accept an enemy as a friend as long as the fight was fair.
Readers should know that St. Francis was a frair rather than a cloistered monk. Modern men do not understand the cloistered life unless they understand that pagans worshipped nature to the point that such worship became perverted and unnatural. The cloistered life was a reaction to such unreasonable nature worship. One could argue that St. Francis appreciated nature, but St. Francis worshipped whom he considered the Creator of nature. St. Francis was not a pantheist. Chesterton explained that the cloistered monks prior to the active frairs such as the Franciscans and Dominicans made invaluable contributions to Western Civilization. They hand copied books. The cloistered monks and nuns were Europe's first teachers during the so-called dark ages and saved learning. These people taught men how to effectively breed livestock and cultivate land. Chesterton stated that the cloistered monks and nuns were severely practical. They were severe with themselves and were practical and compassionate with everyone else.
Another aspect of St. Francis' life was that he was a poet. Chesterton made the comment that poets write about romance and love. St. Francis' poetry was devoted to Divine Love and God. St. Francis may have influenced Medieval poets such as Dante (1265-1321) whose DIVINE COMEDY had obvious religious overtones.
In spite of St. Franics poverty and asceticism, he was not a gloomy man. St. Francis was cheerful, optimistic, and free. Chesterton wrote that the Franciscans were more free than others because they took an honest vow of poverty. Anyone who is attached to his possessions could not be completly free. No one could contain St. Francis and his follwers by economic and social neccessity. Chesterton commented that he expects nothing will not be disappointed. Chesterton also commented that the Franciscans expected nothing but enjoyed everthing because they believed that creation emerged from nothing.
Chesterton related a charming story of St. Francis and his followers who were poor and had nothing unceremoniously approaching great rulers and Popes for audiences without fanfare and pomp. Yet, more secular men who had wealth and power usually received St. Francis with politeness and respect. Another charming story is that of St. Francis and his followers approaching powerful Islam rulers during the Crusades. These rulers would have executed most Catholic if approached by other Catholics. Yet, the Islamic rulers showed respect to St. Francis. These rulers did not accept Catholcism, but St. Francis' kindness and manners made the Islamic rulers respect him in spite of severe religious differences. Many crusades want to kill Moslems in battle. St. Francis went to the Middle East not to kill Moslems but to create Catholics.
Chesterton wrote this book to present a brief history and commentary of St. Francis and the Franciscans. Chesterton presented a more authenic of the Medieval era to give an authenic view of St. Francis and the Franciscans. Chestertoned showed what modern men in a crass materialistic world could learn from the Middle Ages which was intensely more religious as opposed to what has become of modern religion or what Bonhoffer called "cheap grace."
This reviewer believes that G.K. Chesterton admired both St. Franics and St. Thomas Aquinas. Chesterton's nonfiction work shows the logic and reason of St. Thomas Aquinas and the compassion of St. Francis. As an aside, readers should read Chesterton's book re St. Thomas Aquinas which is a good companion volume to this book.
Discusses St. Francis and Things Related Oct 25, 2007
Chesterton's book offers significant insights into St. Francis that make this book worth reading and owning. Chesterton eloquently identifies and expounds some of the paradoxes from Francis' life. He also highlights the truths of Francis' ministry and radical faith. There are many lines in this book that readers will want to review and appreciate.
However, this is not as Chesterton claims an introductory book to the saint. I think that for this book to be read without frustration readers should have at least a cursory knowledge of the timeline of events in St. Francis' life and why he is considered the most perfect image of Christ that ever lived. If you approach this book expecting, as I initially was, an easy to grasp overview of Francis' life you will probably be left wondering what Chesterton is writing about and when he is going to tell you about Francis.
Chesterton approaches Francis from dozens of different perspectives and eventually zeros in on the heart of Francis and the supernatural events that guided his life. Chesterton hits the highlights but does not go through Francis life in a simple manner.
Before reading this book, I would suggest reading a simpler biography on Francis. Many of his biographers cull from St. Bonaventures "Major Life of Francis" or Thomas Celano's biography of Francis. These are ealy traditional biographies of Francis and would prepare readers for Chesterton's discussion that does offer value to any picture of Francis.
Chesterton never disappoints... Nov 20, 2006
G.K. Chesterton ranks high among the most entertaining and insightful Christian writers in history. His singular wit infuses his work bringing mirth to what might otherwise be solemnity. His style is playful, yet earnest and, though his era has passed, he remains as readable now as ever. Indeed, Chesterton resides not far behind the venerable CS Lewis as an icon of Christian literature. His St. Francis of Assisi proves no exception.
Chesterton's intent is cleary not a comprehensive biography, but an introduction to the remarkable career of Francis Bernardone. The author hits only the highlights expecting these examples to accurately portray the whole. He easily succeeds. St. Francis of Assisi is a concise, enjoyable look at a saint who brought the principles of Christ back to a Catholicism which had long before started to wander. Read this and other works of Chesterton. You may find they all bear a 5-star ranking.