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The Ball and the Cross [Paperback]

By G. K. Chesterton (Author)
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Item description for The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton...

Like much of G.K. Chesterton's fiction, The Ball and the Cross is both witty and profound, cloaking serious religious and philosophical inquiry in sparkling humor and whimsy. It chronicles a hot dispute between two Scotsmen, one a devout but naive Roman Catholic, the other a zealous but naive athiest. Their fanatically held opinions--leading to a duel that is proposed but never fought--inspire a host of comic adventures whose allegorical levels vigorously explore the debate between theism and atheism.

Publishers Description
Like much of G. K. Chesterton's fiction, "The Ball and the Cross" is both witty and profound, cloaking serious religious and philosophical inquiry in sparkling humor and whimsy. Serialized in the British publication "The Commonwealth" in 1905-06, Chesterton's second novel first appeared in book form in America in 1909, delighting and challenging readers with its heady mixture of fantasy, farce, and theology.
The plot of "The Ball and the Cross "chronicles a hot dispute between two Scotsmen, one a devout but naive Roman Catholic, the other a zealous but naive atheist. Their fanatically held opinions--leading to a duel that is proposed but never fought--inspire a host of comic adventures whose allegorical levels vigorously explore the debate between theism and atheism.
Martin Gardner's superb introduction to "The Ball and the Cross" reveals the real-life debate between Chesterton and a famous atheist that provided inspiration for the story, and it explores some of the novel's possible allegorical meanings. Appraising the book's many intriguing philosophical qualities, Mr. Gardner alerts readers as well to the pleasures of its "colorful style . . . amusing puns and clever paradoxes . . . and the humor and melodrama of its crazy plot."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Dover Publications
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.52" Width: 5.43" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 22, 1995
Publisher   Dover Publications
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0486288056  
ISBN13  9780486288055  
UPC  800759288052  

Availability  1 units.
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More About G. K. Chesterton

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...
  1. Classic Wisdom Collection
  2. Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton
  3. Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton
  4. Doubleday Image Book
  5. Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science
  6. Dover Books on Literature & Drama
  7. Dover Books on Western Philosophy
  8. Dover Thrift Editions
  9. Everyman Library
  10. Everyman's Library
  11. Father Brown Mysteries (Audio)
  12. Hendrickson Christian Classics
  13. Hendrickson Classic Biographies
  14. Image Classic
  15. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  16. Modern Spiritual Masters
  17. Moody Classics
  18. Paraclete Heritage Edition
  19. Penguin Classics
  20. Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British
6Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Chesterton, G.K.
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Chesterton, G. K.
8Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Christian Allegory

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Ball and the Cross?

Chesterton at his best  May 24, 2008
Evan MacIan and James Turnbull. Once you have read this novel, they are part of you: their thoughts are yours; their blood flows through you. But it is not just the two incredible protagonists that stay with you for ever. Father Michael, Professor Lucifer (like it or not): you begin to see the world through all of their eyes, and your own sight is all the clearer for it. This is Chesterton at his best.

Whatever your doctrine, whatever your mind, your spiritual life will be transformed by this book. Chesterton's "Orthodoxy," while wonderful, can be quite inaccessible, as well as being often uninteresting to the non-Catholic mind. But in "The Ball and The Cross," Chesterton's views cannot help but reach you and transform you, whatever you believe. In MacIan's fervent and eloquent speeches on Christianity; in Turnbull's short and terse explanations of atheism; and especially in the old drunk beggar's words of wisdom, Chesterton brings eternal truths into his work with eloquence and style. This book is worth having and treasuring.
Religious and Philosophical Inquiry - and Whimsy Too.  Apr 1, 2007
The Ball and the Cross, (1906), G. K. Chesterton's second novel, both entertains and intellectually challenges the reader. Early in the story two diametrically opposed protagonists, Evan MacIan, a devout Catholic and James Turnbull, a passionate atheist, are interrupted by the secular authorities before they are able to carryout a traditional duel by swords. They escape with their swords, but become subjects of a countrywide manhunt and the center of media attention.

Chesterton's absurd plot thinly disguises a witty, profound, and provocative religious and philosophical inquiry, one that resonates with today's readers as well as it did with readers a century ago. (I suspect that not that much has really changed. In our contemporary context non-believers still distrust sincere believers, perhaps even more so given the growth in Moslem extremism, the Arab-Jewish conflict, and Christian activism in American politics.)

The duel is continually postponed due either to the untimely appearance of police, or to unexpected encounters with an eclectic mix of characters, all apparently allegorical representations of one type or another. As the story proceeds, we readers find that the two duelists are more alike than different, as they both hold firm beliefs, in contrast to the secular world around them which has largely embraced relativism and more passive religious convictions.

I suggest that you also visit the other reader reviews as they offer nsightful and interesting perspectives. Chesterton brings out the best in a reader. His stories encourage us, even prod us, to consider and reflect upon profound issues and matters - although he does so in a witty, amusing, even whimsical context. Perhaps Chesterton is saying that religious and philosophical inquiry is simply too serious not to enjoy.
Exceedingly good: both witty and profound  Feb 19, 2006
When I first began this book, I thought it was a bit boring and rather absurd. By the time I reached the middle I though it was rather witty and absurd. Now that I have reached the end of the book I think that it is extremely witty, profound, and wonderfully absurd. It was one of the most wonderfully rediculous books which I have ever read, ranking only with Chesterton's The Flying Inn in the level of absurdity. Chesterton manages to turn a very serious plot into a very rediculous plot (an attempted sword duel between a Christian and an atheist which takes place all over England, from cities to islands to insane asylums), fills it with witty and profound lines from both lead characters, and sucessgully provides a stunning rebuttal of the popular philosophies of his day (i.e. Nietzche, Tolstoy, etc.). This was my favorite Chesterton book until I read Manalive, and I seriously doubt that is has many rivals (or much competition at all) in the genra of profound absurd fiction.

Overall Grade: borderline A+
Marvelous  Feb 6, 2005
Entertaining and thought-provoking, the Ball and the Cross delivers a nice punch of Chesterton in a thoroughly amusing satire. I am continuously amazed at the genius of these beleaguered Englishment - Chesterton, Lewis, Belloc, Tolkien, et al. While the Ball and the Cross doesn't quite rival Lewis' Screwtape Letters in sheer creativity, it does tackle a more subtle theme.

Chesterton's comedic conflict in the triad of Christian/Atheist/Society is heavily relevant to today's Christian/Muslim/Secularist conflict, which I would argue is the defining tension driving world events. It is curious to see how even diametrically opposed Believers can ally against Disbelief or Apathy, or to see how seriously the Agnostic or Apathetic take the threat of sincere Belief.

I was a little stunned by Chesterton's luddite streak as it is expressed in the Devil and his machines, although this is not a surprise considering the turn-of-the-century changes in England, and would seem quite prescient over the next few decades of Total War. Still, given the modern secular alliance with neo-pagan nature-worship, I would probably draw the Devil hugging a tree rather than piloting an airship.

In all a rousing, entertaining jaunt through Chesterton's imagination and philosophy. I agree with other reviewers that Martin Gardner's Foreword should be read Afterward, but it is of great value and well written, and should not be skipped.
Uneven  Nov 16, 2004
Someone (Belloc?) said only Catholics and atheists are willing to play their beliefs all the way out. All other spiritual postions are compromise. This amusing novella illustrates the point. The main characters, an ardent Catholic and a committed atheist, wish to engage in a duel to the death in defense of their beliefs. They are continually interrupted by a stream of characters representing all sorts of moral types. Although the subject is interesting, the narrative doesn't flow well: first you have pages of philosophical dialog, and then intervals of action and plot development of varying length. The result is great difficulty in keeping everything straight. Although the book contains the usual GK wit and wisdom, it is not as tightly composed as his better works.

A word about this (Dover) edition: hard to read. The spacing between rows of type is very narrow and the margins are very wide.

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